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Man charged for possession of meth following a traffic stop in Nuuuli

American Samoa District Court building
False license plates the cause of the traffic stop

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA —A young man with several bench warrants — and also owes a high amount in traffic fines — was arrested last week for drugs.

Fred Wilson, charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, made his initial appearance in District Court Monday morning.

Judge Elvis P. Patea established bail at $5,000 surety.

If he posts bond, Wilson is ordered to pay outstanding fines totaling $750; remain law abiding; not leave or attempt to leave the territory; and he has to surrender his travel documents to the government’s attorney. He is also not to make any direct or indirect contact with all the government’s witnesses.

During Monday’s proceedings, Wilson’s attorney asked the court to quash the two bench warrants the court issued to arrest his client. He said Wilson was unaware of his court hearings.

Patea reminded Wilson that whenever he is ordered to appear in court, it’s his duty to make the court his first priority.

“If you post bond, make sure you make all of your court appearances; if you fail, the court will find you and hold you at the TCF without bail until the matter is resolved. So, take this first incident as a lesson for you,” Patea warned.

Wilson’ preliminary examination is this Friday, July 12th.

According to the government, police stopped a truck in the Nuuuli area for false plates last Friday night.

Police impounded the vehicle and later discovered a clear glass pipe with a usable amount of meth inside. An inventory further uncovered two glass pipes containing a crystalline substance, and several empty small ziplock baggies commonly used to package meth, on the passenger side of the vehicle.

Two people were inside the truck when it was pulled over: a male driver, later identified as Matavanu Ifopo, and Wilson, who was in the passenger seat.

Police requested a driver’s license from the driver, who told them he forgot to bring his license with him. When asked for some sort of identification, nothing was produced.

Information from the Fagatogo dispatcher revealed that the vehicle is registered to Matavanu Ifopo, who had a driver’s license that expired 2 years ago.

Ifopo and Wilson were interviewed separately at the Tafuna Substation.

Ifopo is alleged to have told police that there was another glass pipe that Wilson hid under his seat. Officers went back to the vehicle to check and found a glass pipe containing meth.

He also told investigators he had no knowledge of the glass pipe and drug paraphernalia that were found inside his vehicle, and everything belonged to Wilson.

Ifopo further stated that he saw Wilson hiding something under his seat when their vehicle  was pulled over, but he didn’t see what was it.

The driver was cited for driving a vehicle with false plates, and later released pending an investigation.

When confronted by police, Wilson verbally stated that he didn’t know who owned the glass pipes that were found inside the vehicle, saying he borrowed the vehicle from the owner last week to deliver his taro and bananas to the market.

Wilson refused to provide a written statement.

The crystalline substance from the clear glass pipe discovered on Wilson was tested and yielded positive results for meth.