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Court hears a variety of cases — all with drugs and / or alcohol involved

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man from Nu’uuli who fled from police officers was later apprehended after officers found him sleeping at a bus stop.

Raymond Lasalo made his initial appearance in Court where he was released on his own recognizance to await his next hearing, which is set for Nov. 28 at 8:30a.m.

Lasalo, who holds a valid immigration ID of PA status, is charged with public peace disturbance (PPD); resisting arrest and prohibited place of consumption, all misdemeanors.

The government alleges that on Oct. 27, 2021 around 9:50p.m. two police officers patrolling the Nu’uuli area observed an unknown male who had thrown a beer bottle in front of a store.

The unknown male was later identified as Raymond Lasalo, the defendant in this case.

Officers pulled over in front of the store in an effort to confront the male individual, however, the defendant fled the scene and he was pursued on foot by the two officers. He ran behind the store and houses and shouted to the officers to come and get him.

Officers observed open beer bottles along with the empty beer bottles Lasalo was throwing.

A few hours later, around 2:32a.m. the next morning, the same officers saw the defendant sleeping at the bus stop next to the store in Nu’uuli. Officers pulled over to apprehend the defendant, and when the defendant woke up, he resisted arrest and tried to run, but officers quickly cuffed his hands and placed him inside the police unit.

Upon arrival at the police station, the defendant was observed as confused and did not cooperate with what the officers said. At the same time, the arresting officers noticed a strong odor of alcohol on the defendant’s breath. His eyes were also red.


Muta Faavae is now in custody after he was arrested last month and charged for unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth).

Faavae, 40, made his initial appearance in court last week. He’s charged with one count of unlawful possession of meth, a felony that carries a sentence of imprisonment for not less than five years nor more than ten years and a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $20,000, or both.

Bail is set at $5,000.

Preliminary examination is set for next week.


The government claims that on Oct. 15, 2020 at about 9:25 a.m, several police officers including detectives from the DPS Vice and Narcotics Unit responded to an incident involving a vehicle in Malaeimi.

While officers were speaking with the driver of the vehicle regarding his registration together with his driver’s license, an officer observed some paraphernalia inside the car. Two male individuals were inside the vehicle — the driver and a passenger — the passenger was later identified as Faavae, the defendant in this matter.

One of the two traffic officers who originated the stop told investigators that he flagged down a vehicle heading west towards Malaeimi with expired tags.

The officer further told investigators that while he was speaking to the driver, the defendant at the same time was moving around, acting nervous and putting his hands in and out from his pockets and constantly telling the other police officer to please let him go.

The defendant and the driver of the vehicle were both informed by police officers that the vehicle was going to be impounded for expired tags, and both of them would also be transported to the Tafuna Police Substation for further investigation.

Before the defendant and the driver of the vehicle were transported to the TPS, a pat down was conducted, in which a glass pipe with white crystalline substance was found in the defendant’s possession. Officers further discovered cut up straws, empty baggies and a broken glass pipe commonly used to smoke meth inside the defendant’s right pocket.

The white crystalline substance was field-tested and the test results yielded positive for meth.

Nothing was found on the driver of the vehicle and he was later released.

Faavae was Mirandized and agreed to speak to investigators regarding the matter.

According to the defendant’s statement to investigators, he was picked up in Mesepa by his friend (driver of the vehicle). He did not know that his friend’s vehicle tags were expired.

He said he found a bag with a pipe inside it when they stopped at a store in Faleniu, and he got out to buy food for them. He found the bag on his way back to the vehicle.

He gave the bag to his friend (driver) but his friend told him to hold the bag. He opened the bag and found paraphernalia such as cut up straws, empty small stamp-sized baggies and a broken glass pipe commonly used to smoke meth.

As they passed Malaeimi, two police officers stationed there flagged them down and the driver pulled over the vehicle and asked him to get rid of the bag. So he put it in his pocket not thinking anything about it, unaware that the vehicle tags were expired, along with his friend’s driver’s license.

Faavae told investigators that he was in jail for a year and he’s just finished two years of Probation. He has been staying clean and he has kids that he has been taking care of and he had stayed away from trouble during his probation.

When questioned by investigators, the driver of the vehicle said he doesn’t know Faavae personally, but he knows him from around his neighborhood. The driver stated that he picked up the defendant from Iliili, and he was shocked when a police officer discovered a glass pipe containing meth in Faavae’s possession.

The driver further stated to investigators as they were heading westbound, Faavae asked him if he wanted “some stuff for the night.”

He looked at Faavae and asked him what he meant by “stuff for the night,” and Faavae smiled and whispered, “stuff to make you feel cool.” It was then when Faavae talked about his friend from the area in Vaitogi who always supplies him with “some good stuff.”

According to the driver, he asked Faavae if he was in possession of any illegal drugs. Faavae give him the look and said, “I don’t do those stuff.”

The driver stated that immediately when their vehicle was pulled over by two police officers, Faavae turned to him and said, “Brother, I got some stuff with me that I need to get rid before police officers arrive.” Before the two police officers got to the vehicle, the driver said Faavae started to move around and tried to reach into his pocket for something.


A 24-year-old man is being charged with unlawful possession of drugs and for allegedly trying to break into a store in Pago Pago.

Alema Tapeni made his initial appearance in court two weeks ago.

Tapeni is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, and second degree attempted burglary — both class D felonies, along with 3rd degree assault and disturbing the public peace (PPD), both class A misdemeanors.

Bond is set at $5,000.


Police were alerted by a man who reported that a young male tried to break into a Pago Pago store by trying to damage the side window in an effort to gain entry inside on the night of Sept. 15.

Police responded to the call but were unable to locate the suspect. Two days later, the same caller contacted police again, telling them that the man he saw trying to break into the store was one of the two young men who assaulted his son during a volleyball game.

Police responded to the call and saw a crowd of people gathering in front of the house of the man who contacted police.

The man pointed police to Tapeni who was standing on the other side of the road holding a metal pipe in his right hand.

Police approached Tapeni and asked him to come with them to the station to discuss an important issue. While speaking to police, Tapeni turned and ran and a foot chase ensued.

With the help of other villagers, Tapeni was apprehended and transported to the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) for questioning. Prior to his arrest, a body search of Tapeni netted two hand rolled marijuana joints in his pocket.

Tapeni told police that his friend from Vaitogi gave him the marijuana joints but didn’t reveal his friend’s name. When asked about his involvement in the alleged attempted break-in at a Nu’uuli store, Tapeni told police that it was his friend’s idea to burglarize the store, however, they left the scene after a man scolded them.

The green leafy substance from the two joints tested positive for THC, the active compound in marijuana.


A man was taken into custody last month after police picked him up for a public peace disturbance (PPD) matter in Tafuna. During his arrest, police discovered that there was an outstanding arrest warrant in the system.

Kilave Opeta, 35, who has a previous assault conviction from 2013 made his initial appearance in court last month.

Opeta is charged with second-degree assault and unlawful possession of marijuana, both felonies; and two misdemeanors — PPD and third degree assault.

Bail is set at $5,000.

Cops responded to a PPD in Iliili, after a young woman contacted police for assistance, regarding an intoxicated man yelling profanities at her father.

Police arrived and spoke to the caller who told them that it was around 5:21p.m when she called her father to pick her up, along with her children, in front of a store in Iliili. A few moments later, her father showed up and parked at the front side of the store’s parking lot.

As her father was about to exit his vehicle, a truck pulled up and scratched the back side of their vehicle. Her father exited his vehicle and walked over to speak to the driver of the truck.

As her father was approaching the driver, a man who was later identified as the defendant exited the driver’s side of the vehicle, walked towards her father, and immediately punched him in the face and yelled, “It’s all your fault!”

According to the witness, her father did not throw any punches; instead, he stood up and ran back to where his vehicle was parked, while the defendant followed him. Several bystanders stopped the defendant from striking the victim again.

Immediately afterwards, the defendant jumped in his vehicle and tried to leave the scene. However, two other vehicles pulled in and blocked his vehicle.

Cops apprehended Opeta inside his truck, and transported him to the Tafuna Police Substation for questioning.

When asked by police, Opeta admitted that he assaulted the victim for blocking his way in the parking lot. He said the accident was the victim’s fault. Opeta further told cops two days prior to the incident, he parked his vehicle outside of a store in Tafuna when the victim’s vehicle hit the door of his vehicle leaving a big scratch on the side.

It was revealed during Opeta’s interview with police that he has an outstanding arrest warrant from another assault case, where he is alleged to have assaulted a man by using a rock to strike his head.


On May 1st, 2019, a woman contacted the TPS for help, after her 39-year-old brother was assaulted by a man, who worked as a grounds man for a family next to her brother’s house in Fogagogo.

When police arrived, the woman told them that on the day of the alleged incident, her brother was working outside in his yard while Opeta and two other men were doing a clean up at a family house next door.

According to the woman’s statement, Opeta and the two men were drinking during their clean up.

Opeta is believed to have called out to the victim asking him to buy more beer for him as he looked like he had just come from off island. The victim gave Opeta and his two friends three cans of beer from his refrigerator.

The woman told police that Opeta did not appreciate the free beer from her brother, but made fun of him and told him, “You just came from off island and you can only afford to give us three cans of beer?”

The victim became angry and allegedly yelled out profane words to Opeta and told him that he should be thankful for the free stuff he received from someone he doesn’t know. Furthermore, the victim told Opeta that only a coward acted like that.

At some point, Opeta walked over to the victim and hit him on the back of the head with a rock, causing the defendant to fall down. While the victim was on the ground, Opeta allegedly kicked his back twice before leaving the scene.

After police obtained a warrant from the court to arrest Opeta, but he was nowhere to be found. The owner of the house he worked for told police he hadn’t heard from Opeta since the alleged incident.

Video footage of the incident recorded by a nearby store’s surveillance camera was obtained by police, and it confirmed Opeta’s involvement.


On July. 29, 2014, Opeta was sentenced to 20 months detention at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF), as a condition of his 5-year probation, after pleading guilty to the amended charge of second-degree assault, under a plea agreement with the government.

The government says Opeta assaulted a man during a drinking session by stabbing him with a broken beer bottle, causing severe injuries to the victim’s neck and shoulder.