Glass pipe and other alleged drug paraphernalia found after traffic stop
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A young man with several bench warrants and a large number of traffic fines was arrested last week on allegations of unlawful drug possession.
Taeao Auelua made his initial appearance in District Court and bail was set at $5,000 cash. He is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, an unclassified felony punishable by a term of imprisonment from 5-10 years, a fine of up to $20,000, or both.
If he is able to post bail, Auelua is ordered to pay $350 in outstanding fines, remain law abiding, and follow other usual bond restrictions.
During court proceedings, the defense attorney asked to have the two bench warrants quashed, saying Auelua was unaware of his court hearings.
Before granting the defense submission, the court explained to Auelua that whenever he is ordered to appear in court, it’s his duty to make that his first priority.
On Nov. 28th police stopped a black truck in Nu’uuli for speeding and the driver was not wearing a seatbelt. Officers approached the driver to inform him why his vehicle was being stopped. However, everything changed after officers observed several empty small baggies commonly used to package meth under the passenger’s seat.
The vehicle was impounded and cops later found a clear glass pipe containing white crystalline substance on the vehicle’s back seat. In addition, three glass pipes containing a crystalline substance, one cut up straw with white crystalline substance inside, along with several empty small baggies commonly used to package meth were also discovered on the passenger side of the vehicle.
Two people were in the vehicle: the driver, later identified as Taeao Auelua, the defendant in this matter, and a female passenger sitting in the back seat of the vehicle behind the driver’s seat. The female passenger was later identified as Auelua's girlfriend.
When asked for his license, Auelua told police he forgot to bring it with him, and he had no other form of identification on him. Information received by police revealed that the vehicle was registered to the defendant’s mother.
During the course of the investigation, Auelua's girlfriend told police that drugs found inside the vehicle belonged to Auelua. She further stated that she knew nothing about the drugs but the reason why she knew that the drugs belonged to her boyfriend was that on their way to Nuuuli before they were pulled over by police, she heard him talking on the phone with someone discussing drugs that needed to be delivered to another man in the Tafuna area.
When questioned by police, the defendant denied any knowledge of the drugs and contraband found in the vehicle. He told police that the vehicle belongs to her mother who is stranded off-island. So, her mother’s sister borrowed the car and used it for over two weeks. He told police, he had just picked up his mother’s vehicle from his aunt’s house.
He further stated that he never checked the inside of the vehicle when he got inside it. He was just driving home without any knowledge that there were drugs inside. When investigators mentioned his telephone conversation with another person while his girlfriend was listening — where they talked about drugs — Auelua denied the conversation took place.
The white crystalline substance in the clear glass pipe discovered on Auelua netted positive results for meth.
Auelua was sentenced in High Court back in 2013 to serve 28 months detention at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) as a condition of his 7-year probation for a stealing conviction. He was also ordered to find a job within the first 90 days of release from the TCF, and pay $2,193 in restitution to the victim.