Another drug defendant allegedly made purchase at Le Filifili
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man involved in the case where 2 males were charged and convicted of assaulting another man during a drinking session a few years ago was arrested last week on drug charges.
Ropati Talaese made his initial appearance in District Court last week. He later waived his right to a preliminary hearing and the case has been bound over to High Court.
Talaese is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine; and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, both unclassified felonies, punishable by imprisonment of 5-10 years, a fine of $5,000-$20,000 or both.
Bail is set at $10,000.
On May 2, 2020 two officers conducted speed enforcement across from an Asian store in Mesepa. At about 11a.m, they stopped a speeding vehicle that was heading west. Two males were inside. The driver identified himself to police as Ropati Talaese, and did not have a valid driver’s license on him or any other form of identification. It was later confirmed that his license had expired Sept. 20, 2018.
Talaese was then told that his vehicle would be impounded at the Tafuna Substation (TS) and he was taken in for further questioning. He was handcuffed and rode in the passenger seat of his vehicle while a cop took the wheel.
Before heading to the police station, Talaese handed a black fanny pack to one officer, to give to his passenger (who identified himself to police as Chris Aleki Jr). The cop who handed the black pack over to Aleki Jr asked Aleki Jr if it belonged to him. Aleki Jr said no, “it belong to my friend, Talaese.”
Aleki Jr was then placed in the police unit and the cop held on to the black pack until their arrival at the police station. Once there, the cop returned the black pack to Talaese who still claimed that it belonged to Aleki Jr. That’s when a senior officer asked him if they could search the fanny pack for any form of identification. Talaese said okay.
The search netted two small stamp-sized baggies containing a white crystalline substance that tested positive as meth, and one small stamp-sized baggie containing green leafy that tested positive with marijuana.
When questioned by police, Aleki Jr said he had known Talaese for only two months and they met during one of his village’s bingo games, and that Tales would ask him for help with yard work and on that particular day, he picked him up to help mow his lawn in Tafuna.
According to Aleki Jr, Talaese had the black pack in his car when he got in the car; and after mowing the lawn in Tafuna, he asked for his help again — this time, with planting taro in Taputimu.
Aleki Jr said he agreed and when they were stopped by police, he saw Talaese stuff the black pack under his seat and was surprised when the police officer walked up to him saying Talaese said the black pack was his.
Talaese’s vehicle was searched in his presence. Police found a pipe containing white crystalline substance on the floor of the passenger side, wrapped in a black T-shirt; empty small stamp-seized baggies commonly used to sell meth; and 4 cut-up straws. There was also a green leafy substance scattered all over the sides of the rug on the passenger side. Two closed off straws were also discovered underneath a soda can in the passenger’s side cup holder.
When questioned regarding the illegal drugs found inside his vehicle and the black pack, Talaese told investigators that he purchased the drugs from a man at the Le Filifili area who always supplied him with drugs when ever he needed them.