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Drug defendant enters into plea agreement — sentencing set for Oct

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

Mareko is represented by Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill while prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey.

Mareko 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, Mareko 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, Mareko admits that on Nov. 7, 2019 in American Samoa, he unlawful possessed illegal drugs with the intent to distribute.

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

During that search, police discovered a medium baggie containing a quantity of methamphetamine. He also admits that police found 4 cut up straws containing methamphetamine in his possession.

According to court documents, Mareko’s vehicle was pulled over by police for a traffic violation and Mareko 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); 11 bullets; 4 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); 99 medium sized empty baggies; an iPhone 8 with a black phone cover and several other objects (all noted on property forms), and a total of $2,949 in cash.

Sentencing for Mareko is set for Oct. 23, 2020.

Co-defendant in this case is William Gasolo whose case is still pending in High Court.