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Petesa traffic stop nets more meth

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The driver of a vehicle pulled over for a traffic violation is now charged for violating local drug laws.

Shane Taupau made his initial appearance in District Court last week. He is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, an unclassified felony, punishable by term of imprisonment from 5-10 years, a fine of up to $20,000, or both.

Bail is set at $5,000.


On Jan. 4, 2021 about 5.43p.m, a vehicle was pulled over by patrolling police officers on the Petesa highway due to the driver not wearing a seatbelt. The driver was later identified as Shane Taupau, the defendant in this matter, and the passenger was identified as Talo Lua.

During the stop it was discovered the driver did not possess a driver’s license nor have any sort of identification on him. He was then told that the vehicle would be impounded and the driver was also informed that he and the vehicle would be transported to the TPS for further investigation.

Before the driver was transported to TPS, he was patted down by officers and Taupau allegedly told one officer that he had a glass pipe to smoke “ice” on him. A black pouch was retrieved from Taupau, and inside was a glass pipe with white residue inside.

The passenger was later asked to exit the vehicle because he was also acting suspicious, and when the passenger exited the vehicle he reached back inside the car to get his work vest and that’s when another glass pipe fell to the ground also containing white residue. The passenger, Lua was also apprehended at the scene and was taken to the TPS for questioning.

That is when patrolling officers requested assistance from Detectives of the Vice and Narcotics Unit (VNU) to assist with the investigation, which occurred an hour later when an officer from the VNU arrived.

According to the government, three glass pipes were discovered, with two glass pipes discovered inside the black pouch that was confiscated from the driver Taupau, one empty and one with white residues inside; the other glass pipe was discovered from the passenger Lua also contained white residue. The two glass pipes with white residue were later tested and yielded positive results for methamphetamine in both.

Taupau was Mirandized and he made a written statement as reflected by his signature on the forms. The interview was witnessed by another police sergeant.

According to Taupau’s written statement, he stated he was pulled over by patrolling police officers because he was not wearing a seatbelt. He was searched by police and also the car and from searching the car officers found two “fana” under his friend Lua’s work vest. “Fana” translation is “gun” — another name for glass pipe use to smoke methamphetamine.

When asked about the black pouch found in his possession containing a glass pipe with methamphetamine inside, Taupau claimed that he did not know anything about the black pouch. He also claimed that he does not know anything about the glass pipe discovered inside the black pouch. He said that the pipes found maybe belong to the person who owns the vehicle.

Lua was also interviewed by investigators regarding the matter. According to Lua he just got off work when he spotted Taupau driving his neighbor’s car and he hitched a ride with him. They were in Petesa when police stopped their vehicle because Taupau was not wearing his seatbelt.

Before officers approached, Taupau gave him two glass pipes to hide, he was scared and unsure what to do so he hid them inside his work vest. When police told him to exit the vehicle was when the glass pipes fell to the ground.

Lua was later released due to findings of the investigation, while defendant Taupau was booked and confined at the Tafuna Correctional Facility (TCF) to await the next sitting of court.