Drugs allegedly discovered after traffic stop for expired sticker
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Two men were arrested and are now being charged with violating local drug laws after cops discovered drugs, paraphernalia and cash in a vehicle they were traveling in during a traffic stop last week for expired tags.
The two men, Johnny Vou, who is on two years probation for a prior conviction, and Mose Tui made their initial appearance in District Court this week.
Vou is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and unlawful possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute; while Tui is charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine and unlawful possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute; all unclassified felonies, punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than five years nor more than twenty years, a fine of up to $20,000, or both.
Vou and Tui are each held on bail of $15,000.
Preliminary examination is scheduled for next week.
Last Saturday night, May 1st, 2021 around 11:22p.m, the Fagatogo Police Central contacted the Vice and Narcotics Unit (VNU) and relayed a case involving what appeared to be drugs discovered at a traffic stop on the west side of the island.
VNU Detectives discovered during their investigation that officers from the Leone Police Substation (LPS) conducted a traffic stop on a blue Toyota Pre-Runner pickup registered to Pele Tui of Iliili in front of the McConnell Dowell gate across from the Veterans Stadium.
Officers approached the vehicle and observed two male individuals inside, one in the driver’s seat and the other in the passenger seat. Officers approached the driver and informed him about the nature of the stop that the vehicle tags were expired. The driver was later identified as Mose Tui, one of the co-defendants in this matter.
While the officer was speaking to the driver of the vehicle, another officer observed the male individual sitting at the passenger’s seat was acting strange, moving around inside the vehicle and fidgeting with something between his legs. Officers informed the driver that the vehicle was to be impounded at the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) for expired tags then instructed the driver to step out of the vehicle which he did and one officer conducted a pat down of his outer clothing for weapons, and none were found.
The passenger who was later identified as Johnny Vou, the other co-defendant in this case was later instructed to step out of the vehicle and another officer conducted the pat down of Vou during which the officer felt a bulge in Vou’s shorts just underneath his groin area. The officer asked Vou if he could bring out the bag and Vou said yes.
The officer brought out a red and black wrist bag with a long sting on it. The officer asked Vou if he could look inside the bag and Vou said yes. The officer discovered multiple small empty ziploc baggies; 3 cut up straws used as scoopers and bundles of cash amounting to $296.55; also, in one of the small baggies the cop discovered what appeared to be green leafy substance inside.
Both Tui and Vou were then transported to the TPS along with the vehicle and property that was discovered.
A thorough search of the vehicle was conducted at the TPS and two small clear baggies were discovered inside one of the middle compartments that had what appeared to be white crystalline substance inside. Also discovered was an Everest fanny pack that had Tui’s black wallet and ID’s inside; a white medium size ziploc bag and inside that ziploc bag officers discovered multiple empty medium sized baggies, a cut up straw used as a scooper and multiple empty stamp sized baggies with white crystalline residue inside.
Tui was Mirandized and he told investigators that he understood his rights and wished to make a statement about the incident.
According to Tui’s statement to investigators, he received a call from Vou asking him if he could be picked up and taken to Nu’uuli to get his stuff. He went to meet with Vou in Vaitogi and saw Vou had with him a speaker. Vou asked him again if he could be taken to Nu’uuli to pick up his stuff and he said yes.
When they neared Cost-U-Less heading eastbound he saw a police unit turn back around and move behind them. He told Vou that a police unit was behind them and that’s when he noticed Vou moving around inside his car. He also saw Vou putting stuff inside the cup holder and saw Vou open one of the compartments and put something inside.
He also stated that he didn’t know Vou had stuff on him. Tui was asked if the fanny pack discovered inside the vehicle belonged to him and he stated yes.
Vou was Mirandized and he told investigators that he understood his rights but he refused to make a statement or answer questions.
Officer’s also discovered another stamp size baggie filled with what appeared to be white crystalline substance along with cash totaling $195.
The green leafy substance was tested and it later revealed positive results for THC (marijuana).
The white crystalline substance was also tested and it revealed positive results for methamphetamine.
Drugs and property seized were documented and taken into custody as evidence.
Vou was previously convicted of possession of an unlicensed firearm and was sentenced to serve 90 days at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) as a condition of his 24-month probation. Vou, was initially charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine; one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute; and two counts of possession of unlicensed arms, all felonies.
However, in a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court in February of this year, Vou pled guilty to the amended charge of possession of an unlicensed arm, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
As part of the plea agreement, the government asked the court to dismiss the more serious drug charges.
The charges against Vou stem from an incident that was reported to police during the early morning hours of Mar. 30, 2019. On the day in question, EMS alerted the DPS Tafuna substation regarding a distress call about a fight in Ottoville, where a male was reportedly injured.
A half dozen police officers answered the call.
Police spoke to Vou's girlfriend who said she was the one who called for help, as her boyfriend, Vou, was injured in Iliili and it was her younger sister who brought him home.
Investigators noted that Vou sustained multiple abrasions on his face, hands, shoulders, back, and legs. EMS was dispatched. Cops said they attempted to wake Vou but "he was unresponsive," according to the court affidavit.
It was while the police were in Vou’s room that the ammunition was seen in a box on a table directly across from the bed where Vou was. The girlfriend denied knowing anything about the bullets, and then she woke Vou's parents and one of the cops filled the couple in on what they had discovered.
EMS arrived and treated Vou. According to them, the injuries were not life threatening. Upon hearing this, Vou's father refused to take his son to the hospital, according to the court affidavit.
The couple was told that police needed to search their son's room after discovery of the bullets that were now seized. Vou's father was compliant.
The search netted a number of items.
On the floor near Vou's bed, cops found two stamp-sized baggies containing a crystalline substance. On the table where the bullets were discovered, cops found 3 ziplock baggies — two contained white crystalized residue. Also found was a propane tank, a pencil case containing 3 straws that were cut and made into scoops, and 4 stamp-sized baggies (empty).
In a container next to the TV, police discovered a pack of rolling papers, two straws with cut-up ends that looked like spoons, "commonly used to scoop meth."
In a trash can, investigators found a medium-sized baggie with a crystalized substance, a .22 hollow point round, 10 stamp-sized baggies of which 3 continued white crystalized residue.
In the closet, police recovered a green camouflage backpack containing a broken glass pipe "used to smoke ice," a melted glass pipe, 3 stamp-sized baggies containing a white crystalized substance, two gold chains, and a propane tank.
The search was interrupted when Vou's girlfriend's sister, asked police if she could get her green camouflage backpack. When shown the bag that contained the contraband the police had found, the woman verbally admitted that "it was her bag."
She was immediately arrested and transported to the DPS Tafuna substation.
At that time, Vou's father requested that EMS come a second time, to check on his son. Vou was subsequently transported to the LBJ for further treatment.
Meanwhile, the search at his home continued.
On the bed that Vou was lying on, police found a medium-sized baggie containing a small amount of a white crystalline substance, a ziplock baggie and 5 stamp-sized baggies (2 of which contained residue of a white crystalline substance.)
Under the bed, police discovered a black coin purse with 4 stamp-sized baggies containing a white crystalline substance, and 6 empty stamp-sized baggies, a piece of broken glass with a white crystalline substance, and a sealed straw.
Both Vou and his girlfriend’s sister refused to make statements to police