Tafeta man faces drug charges following a traffic stop in Iliili
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The driver of a black truck that was pulled over by police last week is facing drug charges, after police allegedly found a blue bag inside the vehicle containing small baggies of a white crystalline substance, along with drug paraphernalia.
Filemu “PEACE” Valaau made his initial appearance in District Court last week. Defense attorney, Assistant Public Defender Bob Stuart said they want to move forward with a preliminary examination (PX) hearing, which is set for next Tuesday morning.
Bail for the defendant has been set at $10,000.
Valaau, 45, from Tafeta is charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, a felony punishable by imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine up to $20K or both; and unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a class D felony punishable by up to 5 years in jail, a fine up to $5K or both.
A black truck with no license plate light was stopped by a cop on the night of Sept. 10th at around 10:23 p.m on the Iliili road.
Valaau and 3 other males were inside the vehicle. The trio was identified in court documents as: Anthony Meki, Talalelei Apelu, and Solomona Eteuati.
The officer who made the initial stop informed Valaau about why he was pulled over. He then requested a driver’s license and Valaau complied.
The cop accessed the lights for the rear license plate and discovered that the sticker on the plate did not match the license plate number. The DPS Central Station dispatcher was contacted for the registration and ownership status of the vehicle.
According to the info provided to the cop, the license plate on the vehicle expired over two years ago — June 2017. Valaau was cited and informed that his vehicle was going to be impounded at the Tafuna Substation, because the plate is expired and the tags are for another vehicle.
At the Tafuna Substation, police informed Valaau that he had to be present during the inventory search. Cops discovered a black bag under the passenger seat, where Meki was sitting when the truck was pulled over.
Valaau was shown the bag and asked whom it belonged to and he said it was Meki’s.
When asked Valaau about the white substance inside one of the 4 small stamp-sized baggies found inside the bag. Valaau said it was “ice” (meth), and it also belonged to Meki.
During a body search of Valaau, 2 small stamp-sized baggies containing a white crystalline substance fell from pant pocket. When asked about the baggies, Valaau smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
When interviewed by police, Meki explained that Valaau picked him up in Leone and told him they needed to drive to town to drop some stuff for his uncle. He said when police stopped their vehicle, Valaau asked him to hide the black bag under his seat. Meki told police he didn’t know anything about a bag because he didn’t have a bag with him.
Detectives from the Vice and Narcotics Unit conducted a second inventory of the truck in the presence of Valaau. A glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance, along with 20 empty small baggies commonly used to sell meth were discovered.
The white crystalline substance found in the glass pipe, as well as in the small baggies from the black bag and from Valaau’s pocket, all tested positive for meth.