Drugs found in rental car that was reported stolen — driver arrested
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man with a previous stealing and fraud conviction is now facing drug charges after investigators discovered drugs in a rental car that was reported stolen over two months ago.
Tafi Agaese made his initial appearance in court last month.
He is charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance, (methamphetamine), a felony, punishable by imprisonment between 5-10 years, a fine between $5,000-$10,000 or both, along with one count of stealing and one count of fraud, both class C felonies, punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a $5,000 fine or pursuant to A.S.C.A 46.2101, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from the commission of said crime, up to a maximum of $20,000, or both such fine and imprisonment for each amount.
His preliminary examination is set for this Friday this week.
Agaese’s bail is set at $10,000.
If he is able to post bond, Agaese is ordered to remain law abiding, as well as abide by usual restrictions.
The government claims that on the morning of Oct. 29, 2020, cops spotted a rental car and another vehicle parked on the side of the road in Iliili. The drivers were talking to each other, while still inside the vehicles. Police observed one person in the rental car that they believed matched the description of the rental car that was allegedly stolen from a rental company compound in the Tafuna area over two months ago.
The Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) had received a complaint from a businessman on Oct. 22nd, claiming that one of his rental cars was stolen by a man with the name of Tafilele “Tafi” Agaese of Tafuna. According to the businessman, Agaese took the car and didn’t turn it back in.
Police stopped at the scene in an effort to find out who was driving the rental car, and the driver was later identified as Tafi Agaese — the defendant in this case — while the driver of the other vehicle was a 32-year-old female.
For safety purposes, cops asked Agaese to exit the vehicle and he did. He asked one of the officers if he could take his property to the driver of the other car.
A cop escorted Agaese when he was taking his property to the other driver, who was still sitting inside her vehicle.
When Agaese handed over his stuff, the officer observed a small stamp-sized baggie containing white powder; a glass pipe commonly used to smoke meth, and a straw with a white crystalline substance that appeared to be meth.
The officer immediately seized the items from the male driver and then detained Agaese in the police unit. Both Agaese and the female driver were then taken to TPS for questioning.
During an inventory of the property Agaese handed over to the female driver, officers discovered a plastic baggie containing white crystalline substance; a straw of meth, one glass pipe containing meth, two cell phones, one empty glass pipe commonly used to smoke marijuana.
In an interview with police, the female driver said Agaese came to her house to hide because the police were looking for the vehicle he was driving. She said she stopped Agaese’s vehicle and asked him to leave her residence because she didn’t want to be involved with his problems.
According to her, she has nothing to do with the drugs Afaese handed to her in the presence of police officers. She said she was there to tell Agaese to leave her residence and the reason why she accepted Agaese’s property was because she knew the police were going to take him to jail for the rental car he stole.
The woman told police the items did not belong to her.
When asked about the stolen rental car, Agaese told investigators that on the day he went to return the rental car, the owner’s son, whom he claimed is his best friend authorized him to take the rental car to use but make sure to return it after two weeks. However, his old truck broke down and he wanted to use the rental car to transport his mother to and from work.
When asked about the drugs, Agaese told investigators that the drugs belong to his other friend but he was keeping them for him. Agaese refused to reveal to investigators the name of his friend.
On May 12. 2020, detectives of the DPS Vice & Narcotics Unit followed up on a tip from a reliable source, regarding a man they were looking for who was allegedly selling drugs to one adult and two students – and was riding in the back of a blue pick-up truck.
When police pulled the truck over, two male individuals were inside, including Agaese.
Drugs were found inside the vehicle when police searched it.
An inventory of the vehicle uncovered tubes of COD and phosphate inside a container in the trunk. Cops also found one rolled up joint inside a black wallet; 5 small sized baggies containing a crystalline substance; a glass pipe containing a crystalline substance inside a gray purse; and a green leafy substance that was wrapped in brown paper.
Agaese along with the driver were both taken into TPS for questioning where the driver was arrested and charged, while Agaese was released after he was questioned by investigators.