Drug bust at Lapisi house nets 6, including juvenile who claims threats
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Nine people, including a 17-years-old juvenile, were arrested and taken to the Leone Police Substation (LPS) after detectives of the DPS Vice and Narcotics Unit (VNU) and Criminal Investigation’s Division (CID) executed search warrants at several locations on the West side of the island, in an effort to close down drug activities at the Aetui abandoned home in Futiga near the landfill.
The 17-year-old juvenile told investigators that he was forced and threatened by two of the defendants to sell drugs at the Aetui abandoned house.
Six people including the juvenile were taken into custody and are now being charged, while the other three individuals were later released after being interviewed by investigators.
The five adults arrested are: Ioane Sakopo, Pulefano Fisher, Manaia Su’a, Sisigafu’a Tuiuli and Popaia Collins. They made their initial appearances in District Court last week.
Su’a, Tuiuli and Collins are each charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth), a felony.
Bail for Su’a, Tuiuli and Collins is set at $5,000 for each defendant.
Sakopo is charged with one count of unlawful possession of meth and one count of distribution of meth, both felonies, along with one count of endangering the welfare of a child, a class A misdemeanor.
Fisher is charged with one count of unlawful possession of meth and one count of distribution of meth, both felonies, along with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, a class A misdemeanor.
Bail for Sakopo and Fisher is set at $20,000 for each defendant.
Preliminary examination is scheduled for Thursday.
The juvenile defendant was booked and later released into the custody of his mother.
It was on the morning of July 1st, 2021 approximately 6:40 when detectives of the DPS Vice and Narcotics Unit (VNU) received information from a Confidential Informant (CI) that Ioane Sakopo, a.k.a INKY a.k.a STUNNER was observed at his home in Leone with another male individual.
Sakopo was wanted for his involvement in the ongoing illegal drug activities at the Aetui abandoned home in Futiga, along with several other male individuals — all mentioned in the court affidavits.
Several VNU detectives responded to the call and later apprehended Sakopo at his home in Leone along with another individual by the name of T. T (T.T’s full name is mentioned inside the court affidavit but while taken into custody, he was later released to go home).
Sakopo’s house was searched by officers, after receiving permission from Sakopo. T.T and Sakopo, who were both at the house, were taken into custody. Sakopo was informed by police of their interest, due to his alleged involvement in the ongoing illegal drug activities at the Aetui abandoned home in Futiga near the landfill.
A broken glass pipe was found by police beside a chair near Sakopo and it was observed to contain a white crystalline substance inside the bowl of the pipe. Also discovered near Sakopo was a black fanny-pack with a designer’s logo that had crystalline substance in the 3rd zipped pocket.
Sakopo was then apprehended and detectives of the VNU along with CID proceeded to Futiga, due to the detectives receiving information from a CI while they were at Sakopo’s house that Pulefano Fisher, a.k.a MOCHA was observed at the Aetui abandoned home in Futiga near to the landfill, the main location for the illegal drug activities.
T.T was transported directly to the LPS and detained there for further investigation.
At around 8:44a.m, detectives of the VNU, along with CID, accompanied by Sakopo, executed a search warrant on the abandoned home of Su’e and Namu Aetui in Futiga near the landfill.
Detectives rushed into the abandoned house and they immediately observed a 17-year-old juvenile male outside of the abandoned home trying to flee. Detectives apprehended the juvenile and seized a baggie from his shorts pocket. The baggie contained 6 cut-up straws with a white substance inside them and cash totaling $26.
The search continued and detectives arrested another co-defendant, Manaia Su’a as he was also fleeing the abandoned home. A pat down of Su’a did not yield anything illegal on his person.
Detectives also apprehended another co-defendant, Popaia Collins, who was in the driver’s seat of a parked vehicle at the house. While Collins was being patted down he asked the police for his t-shirt. However, when the police detective proceeded to the driver’s side the vehicle and grabbed the t-shirt, he observed what appeared to be a glass pipe hidden inside the t-shirt along with white crystalline substance spilled on the driver’s seat and on the shirt. Officers asked Collins to whom the glass pipe belonged and Collins stated it belonged to Su’a (co-defendant).
Two other male individuals were also apprehended during the search after they were observed inside the abandoned home when detectives entered the home. The names of the two male individuals were also mentioned in the court affidavit, but they were later released to go home after they were interviewed by investigators.
Detectives later received information from the C.I that Fisher was observed at a residence in Futiga, approximately 100 yards from the Aetui abandoned home. Detectives proceeded to the residence and apprehended Fisher. He was also searched but nothing was discovered on his person.
All individuals arrested from the Aetui abandoned home were transported to the LPS for further investigation. Collins’ vehicle was also impounded to the LPS.
Three of the defendants who were Mirandized, afterwards refused to make statements to police. They are: Tuitui, Fisher and Sakopo.
The following were Mirandized and then made statements and answered questions at the LPS:
T.T, who was arrested at the Sakopo home, along with Sakopo, stated that he was hanging out with Sakopo from the night before up until morning when officers arrived at Sakopo’s home. He also stated and confirmed that he and Sakopo were smoking meth and Sakopo tossed his glass pipe away when he saw officers approaching the house. T.T also stated to investigators that the pipe and meth they smoked belonged to Sakopo.
SU’A told investigators that on the morning of July 1st, he asked his neighbor Collins if they could take a ride to the ‘Lapisi’ in Futiga (Aetui abandoned house) to look for a man (named in the affidavit, but not part of the arrest) regarding a load of dirt (cinder) for which he (Su’a) had paid. As they made their way to the abandoned house he told Collins that he wanted to buy meth and as they approached the front of the house, he told Collins to drive to the back of the house where they would meet up with a kid (the 17-year-old juvenile male) that had long hair and wore a blue shirt.
Su’a stated that he then gave the juvenile $25 and the juvenile gave him a meth straw. Su’a gave the glass pipe to Collins along with the meth straw he purchased to fill and left the car to talk to the juvenile on the whereabouts of the man he was looking for when officers arrived to execute the search warrant on the Aetui abandoned house and caught them.
L.L told investigators that he went to the Aetui abandoned house to look for his sister who stole his phone and that he only wanted to get his phone. There he met up with a young kid (juvenile) and another male individual (T.P) and he saw the juvenile with a small baggie of meth straws. He also stated that T.P was smoking a meth pipe next to him when officers arrived and raided the house, and T.P tossed the pipe and a purple straw near a toilet bowl inside the house and tried to run out the side door.
The juvenile was Mirandized in the presence of his mother. According to the juvenile, the drugs found on him belonged to Fisher. He further stated that he sold drugs from Sakopo everyday for the past two months and he was forced and threatened by Fisher to sell the drugs.
He said at around 5 or 6 on the same morning, Fisher arrived at his home and gave him $300 worth of meth to sell. The juvenile stated that the drugs were from Sakopo, that Sakopo arrives at the ‘Lapisi’ in his car and gives the drugs to Fisher, who then gives it to him (juvenile) to sell. The juvenile also stated that the drugs could make over $2,000 a day.
According to Collins, at around 8a.m that morning he got home after dropping his wife off to work and met up with Su’a. Collins basically confirmed what Su’a told police, but said it was Su’a who opened the straw he (Su’a) had bought and filled the pipe. Collins said Su’a then left the pipe on his t-shirt that was on the middle console and left the car to go talk to a guy when cops raided the house. There was no mention of Su’a’s alleged errand to find out about the cinder load.
Detectives discovered multiple empty colored straws inside the rooms in the Lapisi house and around the outside of the house. A police detective discovered a glass pipe and a purple straw near the toilet bowl near the back door. Drugs seized from the individuals apprehended form the Aetui abandoned house along with the crystalline substance from Sakopo’s fanny-pack and glass pipe were tested using the Reagent field test kit and the substances tested confirmed a positive result for methamphetamine.
Drugs and properties discovered were bagged and recorded and taken into evidence.