No COVID-19 epidemic in American Samoa, but meth scourge keeps growing
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 26-year-old man from Samoa is now in custody after he was arrested three weeks ago for allegedly burglarizing a store in Tafuna in order to buy drugs for himself and his friends. In addition, when police searched him, drugs were found in his possession.
The government stated that on May 31, 2020 about 9:57p.m, DPS Vice and the Narcotics Unit was contacted after patrol officers detained a male for entering a store in Tafuna from the side window. He was later identified as Timoteo Vaifale, the defendant in this case. Officers also allegedly found in Vaifale’s possession, one glass pipes commonly used to smoke methamphetamine with a usable amount of white crystalline substance and a small baggie containing marijuana.
According to an officer’s statement to Vice detectives, they were responding to a report of a burglary at a store in Tafuna when they encountered the defendant still inside the store.
Another officer stated that a witness reported seeing the defendant trying to enter a house behind the store. When unsuccessful, the defendant then saw the store’s back door and entered. When the storeowner saw the defendant entering from the back door he was terrified and informed the landlord about the incident.
The landlord immediately called police who responded and found the defendant still inside the store and detained him. He was patted him down, during which the officers found a glass pipe containing white crystalline substance on him, as well as a small baggie containing green leafy substance
After being read his constitutional rights, the defendant agreed to make a statement and allegedly admitted to police that the drugs found in his possession belonged to him.
The defendant further stated to investigators that he tried to enter the house for the purpose of stealing property to sell so that he could get money to buy meth for him and his friends, however, when he was unsuccessful with burglarizing the house, he then turned to the store by breaking the back window to gain entry.
While he was inside the store looking for money and other things, he was alarmed when a man knocked on the window and waved at him to come out. A few moments later, a police unit pulled up at the side of the store.
The defendant apologized to investigators for what he did, saying that his family kicked him out of the house and he was looking for a place to stay.
The white crystalline substance and green leaves were tested and revealed positive results for methamphetamine and marijuana, respectively.
Vaifale made his initial appearance in District Court three weeks ago.
He is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, both unclassified felonies, punishable by imprisonment from 5 to 10 years, a fine of up to $20,000, or both; along with two counts of 1st degree burglary and two counts of attempted stealing, all class C felonies, punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years, a fine of up to $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 maximum of $20,000, or both such fine and imprisonment for each count.
Bail is set at $10,000.
During his initial appearance, Vaifale waived his right to a preliminary hearing and his case was bound over to High Court. He appeared last week for arraignment where he entered a not guilty plea to the charges.
Pretrial conference is Aug. 17th.
A probationer who tested positive for meth last week is now in custody, after the court revoked his release. Wiilson Afele was sentenced to 12 months probation after he was convicted of third degree assault in October of this year. Conditions of probation include monthly Probation visits, paying a $100 fine, and remaining drug and alcohol free.
The court had ordered Afele to appear on Mar. 30th for his first probation review. However, when he failed to show up, the court issued a bench warrant for his arrest.
Afele was arrested and appeared in court on May 22nd, after which he was released on his own recognizance. Before Afele left the premises the court ordered the Probation Office to drug test Afele, to see if he was complying with conditions of probation.
The test came back positive for meth and a second order to show cause was issued by the court, for which he appeared last week. When Afele’s case was called, the court ordered Probation to test Afele prior to the start of court proceedings.
Again, Afele tested positive for meth.
The court told Afele’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Bob Stuart that the court would continue Afele’s case, and a preliminary hearing (PX) for his second OSC is July. 14th.
In the meantime, Afele is back in custody on a ‘no bail’ status.