Mapu crystal meth case bound over to High Court
A woman accused of receiving nearly two pounds of crystal meth, which authorities estimate to have a street value of about $90,000, through the US Post Office, allegedly told police that she purchased the illegal drugs from an off island person, to be sold in the territory, as a fast way to make money.
(The term “crystal meth” is short for crystal methamphetamine that is identified as one form of the drug methamphetamine.)
Mele Moimoi Mapu is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, a felony punishable by not more than 10 years imprisonment, or a fine of not more than $10,000 or both.
Mapu appeared yesterday afternoon for her preliminary examination (PX), before District Court Judge ProTem Gwen Tauili’ili-Langkilde. Arguing for the government was assistant attorney general Kristy Dunn and Mapu was represented by assistant public defender Kate Hannaher.
Based on court information the case against the defendant was the result of an incident on July 7th when Customs officers suspected that illegal drugs were inside a package that Mapu had received through the Fagatogo Post Office. Customs officers at the Post Office had been alerted by a canine about the possible presence of drugs in the package.
At yesterday’s PX hearing, the government called one witness, Police Det. John Seumanutafa who led the investigation into this case. Seumanutafa testified that sometime around July 7, the defendant went to pick up a package, which was suspected to have drugs inside it, at the Post Office
Seumanutafa said that when Customs officers asked the defendant as to what was inside the package, the defendant allegedly responded “it’s meth”. Seumanutafa said that during his interview, he asked the defendant what’s inside the package and the defendant allegedly gave the same answer — “it’s meth”.
The government claimed in court that the crystal meth weighed nearly 2 pounds or about 10 ounces.
Asked by Dunn for an estimate street value, Seumanutafa said its about $90,000 based on the current market.
According to court information, Mapu allegedly told police that she purchased the meth for $800 from a person she met on Facebook. Additionally, Mapu does not know this person or ever met the individual and she also does not know where in the world the person lives, according to court information, which also states that Mapu allegedly told police that she bought the meth as a way to make fast money for herself.
Mapu and the Facebook person had continued communicating with each other through emails including exchanging “sex photos” of each other. She claims that her husband didn’t know about any of her actions.
Seumanutafa testified that he asked to review the defendant’s Facebook page as part of the investigation as well as to obtain confirmation that Mapu had in fact communicated with the alleged seller on Facebook. It was this time, said Seumanutafa, that the defendant recanted her story, saying that her previous statement was a lie.
Dunn shared with the court Seumanutafa’s background — he has investigated more than 100 drug cases for the seven years he’s been with DPS.
The defense questioned the qualifications of the Customs officers as well as the canine unit involved in this case.
In the end, Tauili’ili-Langkilde ruled that the court is satisfied with evidence presented by the government that a crime was probably committed.
The case was then bound over to the High Court where the defendant, who is out on bail, will be arraigned tomorrow morning (Friday).
(Original Samoan story printed in today’s Lali section of Samoa News.)