Meth bust in Fagatogo

fili@samoanews.com

A police surveillance of a home in Fagatogo, where crystal methamphetamine, or ice, was allegedly sold, resulted in the arrest of a fa’afafine or transgender person, who goes by the name of “Nicole”, and it was neighbors who alerted police about Nicole’s activities.

Nicole is identified in court documents, as Falaniko Stowers — and is referred to as a male in court documents, but is also identified as a “fa’afafine” with the name of Nicole.

And when questioned by police about the methamphetamine, the defendant allegedly responded, “If I’m caught, I’m caught, just let it go,” according to a government affidavit, in support of the criminal complaint, which charges Stowers with one count each of unlawful possession of methamphetamine and unlawful distribution of methamphetamine — both are felonies.

Stowers waived a preliminary examination hearing late last week at District Court and the case was bound over to High Court, where the defendant was arraigned yesterday. Stowers entered a not guilty plea to both charges through a defense attorney and remains behind bars — as of yesterday — unable to post bail with pre trial conference hearing set for Jan. 20th.

According to the affidavit, a concerned Fagatogo villager contacted police in September, “they were very suspicious with the ongoing traffic of people walking up and down the road next to the [Fagatogo] police station going to a house occupied by a fa’afafine by the name of Nicole.”

“Neighbors... have noticed frequent traffic of young males walking up” to the house and they “meet Nicole for only a minute or less, then leave. Sometimes, unknown vehicles are seen going to this house at very late hours of the night,” the affidavit alleges.

Also in September leading into October, another neighbor reported to police similar information, with people going to Nicole’s house.

“During our surveillance we confirmed the frequent coming and going of people to this house during the morning hours, noon hours, and mostly during government pay week,” according to the affidavit, which didn’t specify the time frame involved in the surveillance.

They also say that during the second week of November, a confidential informant (CI) came forward to police with information about the defendant. “This CI provided reliable information in the past on unrelated cases,” it says but didn’t provide any other details.

The affidavit alleges that the CI told police that the defendant was selling meth from the house in question and that the CI had gone to the house to hang out with the defendant. The CI allegedly told police that while at the house, the CI “saw people coming to the house to buy ICE from Nicole” who “would open a black backpack from his room and come back with the ICE”.

The CI further alleges that the defendant “would sell the ICE inside the straw for $50 a straw and when the defendant leaves the house he takes the backpack with him every time.”

Based on follow up investigation and information by concerned Fagatogo villagers, police were able to secure a search warrant for the defendant’s house. Police were able to execute the search warrant around 4:30p.m. on Nov. 28 by first approaching the defendant, who was arriving home in a vehicle.

According to police, the defendant was “very nervous” when given a copy of the warrant and that the defendant allegedly had in his hand “six cut-up straws with crystalline substance.” Police asked the defendant “what that was and he just smiled and said, ‘you know what it is’.” Police then escorted the defendant to the home, which was then searched and “only drug paraphernalia was discovered in the house,” the affidavit alleges.

After the house search, the defendant was taken to the police station for questioning and was later charged. 

The crystalline substance in the six cut up straws was tested and the result was positive for methamphetamine, according to the affidavit.

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