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Alleged drug dealer 'cops' a plea

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 30-year-old man accused of violating local drug laws has entered into a plea agreement with the government. Mark Anitipa, who has been in custody since his arrest last year, appeared in Court last week for a Change of Plea (COP) hearing.

Anitipa was initially charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute; one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine; one count of unlawful possession of firearms, all felonies; along with one count of unlawful possession of ammunition, a class A misdemeanor.

But under a plea agreement with the government, accepted last week, Anitipa pled guilty to the charge of unlawful possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, a felony, punishable by imprisonment from five to ten years, a fine of up to $20,000, or both.

By his guilty plea, Anitipa admits that on Nov. 17, 2019 in American Samoa, he unlawful possessed illegal drugs with the intent to distribute.

Anitipa further admits that on the day of the incident, police conducted a body search suspecting that he was in possession of illegal drugs.

During the search, police discovered a medium baggie containing a quantity of methamphetamine. He also admits that police found 2 cut up straws containing methamphetamine in his possession.

According to court documents, Anitipa’s vehicle was pulled over by police for a traffic violation and Anitipa was seen taking a black bag from the vehicle that was allegedly involved in an illegal chase with police earlier.

The bag was found to contain a handgun (one .22 cal single-six); 4 bullets; 2 small cut up straws containing white crystalline substances (which tested positive for methamphetamine); a medium sized baggie containing white crystalline substances (tested positive for methamphetamine); an iPhone 8 with a black phone cover and several other objects (all noted on property forms), and a total of $949 in cash.

Sentencing for Anitipa is set for Jan. 23, 2021.

Case of the co-defendant, Sapena Felise is still pending in High Court.