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Driver of a truck carrying 8g of ice busted for no light — fake tags

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The driver of a blue Toyota pick-up that was stopped by police last week told investigators the bag they found, allegedly containing 8g of a white crystalline substance and drug paraphernalia, does not belong to him.

Suilefaiga Toala made his initial appearance before District Court Judge Fiti Sunia last week. His attorney, Assistant Public Defender Ryan Anderson said they want to move forward with a preliminary examination (PX) hearing, which is set for tomorrow at 1p.m.

Judge Sunia established bail at $20,000 for Toala under certain conditions that include being a law-abiding citizen, remaining alcohol and drug free, and submitting himself to random testing.

Toala, 38, from Nu’uuli is being charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) with intent to distribute; and unlawful possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) — both felonies.

According to the court affidavit, a blue Toyota pick-up with no license plate light was stopped by a police officer on May 16, 2018 at around 9:23 p.m. in the Iliili area.

Toala and two males identified as Foketi Misi Siua and Pio Atonio were inside the vehicle.

When asked to provide his driver's license, Toala did as he was told.

When the police officer checked the lights for the rear license plate, he discovered that the tag sticker on the plate (5204) did not match the number on the license plate (5024). The officer contacted the Central Police Station Dispatcher for Registration and Ownership information, and the status of said vehicle's license plate and tags.

The information that was provided noted that the license plate expired in June 2016. The officer cited Toala and told him the vehicle will be impounded at the Tafuna Substation, because the license plate is expired and the tags belong to another vehicle.

At the Tafuna Substation, Toala was told that he had to be present during the inventory search of his vehicle since it was being impounded.

It was then that a colorful bag was discovered under the passenger seat, where Siua had been sitting when the vehicle was pulled over.

The police officer showed the bag to Toala and asked him who owned it, to which Toala said he didn't know. The cop then asked Toala about the white substance found inside one of the ziplock baggies inside the bag. Toala allegedly responded that it is “ice” (methamphetamine).

During a body search, Toala was asked to empty his pockets, and that's when a clear ziplock baggie with a small amount of white crystalline substance allegedly fell out from inside his right pants pocket.

When asked about the baggie, Toala allegedly smiled and shrugged his shoulders as if to note he didn't know.

Siua, one of the passengers of the vehicle was interviewed by detectives of the Vice & Narcotics Unit and according to him, he caught a ride with Toala in Iliili and he knows nothing about a bag because he didn’t have a bag with him.

During a second search of the vehicle, police discovered a glass pipe about 8- 9 inches long in the back seat of Toala’s vehicle.

When asked about it, Toala allegedly responded, “o le paipa” (it’s a pipe). The glass pipe was loaded with a white crystalline substance.

Tests on all the crystalline substances found inside the glass pipe; the clear small baggie that was inside Toala’s right pocket, and the ziploc baggie — all came back positive for ice.

Toala, through a verbal and written statement to police, said that before he was stopped, he was on his way to Vaitogi to drop off his brother’s daughter.

On his way back, he said picked up Siua and Pio in Vaitogi and he didn’t see Misi with a bag when he picked him up. (Misi was sitting in the passenger seat).

Evidence collected by police from Toala's vehicle included one Ziploc baggie containing 8g of a white crystalline substance; a glass pipe commonly used to smoke ice containing crystalline substance; a small ziploc baggie containing crystalline substance, and various drug paraphernalia such as a digital scale, several ziploc plastic baggies; 19 Q-Tips; one jumbo cut up straw, one electric tape, and one large cut up straw commonly used to scoop ice.