Tafuna HS students busted for drugs on campus — two men face charges

Two men — an uncle and a school teacher — facing charges of distribution
ausage@samoanews.com

An incident two weeks ago involving two students from Tafuna High School allegedly caught in possession of a glass pipe containing an illegal substance, resulted in the arrest of two men who appeared in the District Court last week.

Iosefa Alo, a DOE elementary school teacher, and Galu Nofoa are both charged with one felony count of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, to wit; methamphetamine, punishable by a term of imprisonment of not more than twenty years and a fine of not more than $20,000, or both.

Prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Jillian Sadler, while Assistant Public Defender Ryan Anderson is representing Alo and Nofoa — who made their initial appearances before District Court Judge Fiti Sunia last Thursday.

Anderson requested a bail reduction for the two men —to $5,000, from the original  $20,000 that was set by the court.

The defense attorney argued that $5,000 is the minimum fine for the charge of unlawful possession of a controlled substance under the American Samoa Code Annotated, and added that his clients are not flight risks, they have been living in American Samoa since they were young, and they have no intention of leaving their families.

Prosecutor Sadler opposed the motion for a reduction in bail, saying both defendants are charged with the serious offense of distributing illegal substances to minor students.

Judge Sunia told the defense counsel that the $5,000 bail amount he’s asking for is for unlawful possession of uncontrolled substance, and added that both Alo and Nofoa are charged with unlawful distribution of an illegal substance — a more serious offense.

Sunia ordered that bail remain at $20,000 — one half must be paid in cash, while the other half may be a surety bond.

THE CASE

According to the government, an official from Tafuna HS contacted the Tafuna Sub-Station reporting that two students were found to be in possession of a glass pipe.

The two students were transported to the Tafuna Sub-Station and the head of the DPS Vice & Narcotics Unit was briefed regarding a possible methamphetamine case.

Court documents say the two students were observed by a THS security guard smoking something and they were then taken to the office for questioning.

A glass pipe containing a crystal-like substance and a lighter wrapped in a red shirt were discovered in a bag belonging to one of the two students (C.K).

The crystalline substance netted positive test results for methamphetamine.

The first student (J.M.) — with his sister present — was interviewed by police and according to him, C.K brought the glass pipe, from his cousin, to school and they both smoked it.

He added that he received marijuana from his uncle Galu Nofoa on the night of Oct. 5, 2017, and he brought it to school the following day and smoked it. Following the interview, J.M. was released to the custody of his sister.

C.K. was also questioned by police, in the presence of his mother.

According to C.K., on Oct. 4th, he smoked ice (methamphetamine) with Iosefa Alo inside an outhouse near the teacher’s home in Lauli’i.

When he went to school the following day, J.M gave him 3 marijuana joints. After school that same day, he sold half of a marijuana joint to one of his friends, while another friend smoked the remaining half. He then gave Iosefa Alo the other 2 marijuana joints.

On Oct 6th, according to C.K., school teacher Alo gave him a glass pipe loaded with ice and told him to sell it for $30 cash, or marijuana joints in return for the ice inside the pipe.

C.K. said when he arrived at school, he and J.M smoked the glass pipe with ice behind the cafeteria. They were later caught by a security guard when they went to smoke a cigarette behind campus.

C.K told police that when they were transported to the Tafuna Sub-Station, he saw J.M. hide a marijuana flint in the rear pocket of the passenger seat. Police searched the  unit and discovered a small clear baggie with one hand-rolled cigarette inside, along with a lighter and rolling papers.

The green leafy substance in the joint tested positive for marijuana.

C.K. was booked and transported to the Juvenile Detention Center.

J.M. was interviewed a second time by police but this time, his mother was present. According to J.M., he bought marijuana joints from his uncle Nofoa, and it had been two weeks since he started selling marijuana joints at school because he needed money for his business math class.

He explained that he would get a handful of loose marijuana from his uncle, then he would roll it into marijuana joints and sell it on campus.

He told police he has been smoking marijuana since he was a sophomore, and he gave 3 marijuana joints to his friend C.K. to sell in Lauli’i.

J.M. said C.K. gave him $20 from the sale of the 3 marijuana joints.

He admitted to police that he and C.K. smoked a glass pipe containing ice before they were caught by a school security guard.

When Alo was interviewed by police on Oct 7th, he told police he gave C.K. a glass pipe on Friday morning, and he confirmed that C.K. gave him two marijuana joints on Thursday but he came back later that night to get the two  joints back so he could sell it for money. The next morning on Friday, Alo allegedly admitted that he gave C.K. the glass pipe containing ice (methamphetamine).

When interviewed by police on Oct 11th, Nofoa said he used to sell marijuana when he had a plant growing near his house in Futiga. He added that he remembers giving J.M. marijuana joints a few times, when J.M. would come with money saying it was someone else’s money.

Nofoa allegedly told police that the last time he gave J.M. marijuana joints was in June.

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