Police conduct armed raid on abandoned house near Futiga landfill
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Three men are now charged with violating local drug laws after Illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia were allegedly discovered when armed detectives of the DPS Vice and Narcotic Unit, along with the help of many other police officers executed a search warrant on an abandoned house belonging to Namu and Su’e Aetui of Futiga near the landfill.
A source told Samoa News that the location where police raided is now the new location for Le Aute.
Six people including two women were taken into custody as a result of the police raid. Three were later arrested and charged while the other three were released pending further investigation after being interviewed by investigators.
The three men who were arrested made their initial appearance in District Court last week. They are Paulo Talili; Paulo Maea and Sa Vaifanua.
Talili and Vaifanua are each charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth), an unclassified felony, while Maea is charged with one count of unlawful possession of meth and one count of unlawful possession of meth with the intent to distribute, both unclassified felonies, punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than five years nor more than twenty years, and a fine of not more than $20,000, or both.
Bail for Talili and Vaifanua is set at $5,000 each, while Maea’s bail is set at $15,000.
During his initial appearance, defense attorney for Vaifanua informed the court that his client wished to waive his right to a preliminary examination (PX) but to bound his case over to the High Court for further proceedings.
Vaifanua appeared in High Court last Friday for arraignment where he entered a not guilty plea to the single count against him. His pretrial conference is now set for June of this year. He’s remanded in custody until he posts bond.
Talili and Maea are each scheduled to appear in District Court at the end of this week for a PX.
It was around 2:40p.m on Apr. 23, 2021 when armed detectives of the DPS Vice and Narcotics Unit (VNU), along with the assistance from police officers of other divisions executed a search warrant on the abandoned home of Namu and Su’e Aetui of Futiga near the landfill.
The raid was the result of an investigation after police received information that drugs were allegedly being distributed in the area and a lot of people and vehicles were seen coming and going at the location.
A confidential Informant (CI) also assisted police throughout their investigation before the search warrant was signed by the court and later executed at the location.
During the execution of the search warrant, officers apprehended a male individual later identified as Paulo Maea, (one of the co-defendants in this matter) from the village of Vailoa, where what appeared to be a clear glass pipe commonly used to smoke meth containing white a crystalline substance was discovered in Maea’s shorts pocket.
Maea fled the area after seeing police units and several police officers in the area. He was seen running from inside the Aetui residence heading to the back of the area. However, police officers very quickly apprehended him.
As officers were conducting the search, they observed a vehicle near the Aetui residence leaving the area and starting to make its way back to the main road. Police stopped the vehicle and observed two male individuals were inside. They were later apprehended by police at the scene and transported to the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) for questioning.
Officers searched the vehicle in the presence of the two suspects and discovered three cut up straws with white crystalline substance in the vehicle. The two males were later identified as Sa Vaifanua and Paulo Talili, both co-defendants in this matter.
As the search continued, officers observed two females and one heavy-set male individual fleeing from the Aetui residence making their way to the back of the house and into the bush. They were later apprehended approximately 50 yards from the home. The trio was also named in the court affidavit. They were transported to the TPS for questioning too.
According to the government, the male is from Fagatogo, while the two females are from Pago Pago and Alofau.
Officers continued their search and discovered a black pack that earlier was observed on Maea. It contained a torch and butane gas tanks along with rolling papers and a black and silver pattern wristlet containing $47 in cash. Officers also discovered a large number of empty cut up straws around the abandoned residence — usually used for drug distribution.
All six people were arrested and transported to the TPS for further investigation. Drugs and drugs paraphernalia were confiscated, along with a white vehicle. The vehicle was registered in the defendant Sa Vaifanua’s mother’s name.
During the vehicle’s inventory search, officers discovered what appeared to be a cut up straw with white crystalline substance, underneath the passenger seat near the door. Officers also discovered an iPhone with black cover containing two cut up straws with what appeared to be white crystalline substance inside. Vaifanua’s mother confirmed the phone belonged to him.
Captain Abel Penitusi later tested the white crystalline substance found in the vehicle, and the iPhone, as well as the glass pipe — all the white crystalline substance tested positive for meth.
Vaifanua was then Mirandized and he said he understood his rights and wished to make a statement and answer questions. Vaifanua told investigators that he went in his truck to the “Lapisi” (landfill) in Futiga and met in front of the Aetui residence with a guy name Paulo Maea who was carrying a black bag.
Vaifanua described the buy from Maea — two $25 bags of ice (cut up straw with meth inside); and that on his way back to the front road, a guy stopped him and and asked for a ride to the front. He said he comes to the Lapisi every once in a while and always see’s Maea there and he always buys ice from him (Maea).
Vaifanua further stated to investigators that the ice he buys from Maea is for his own personal use, not for sale. He was later transported to the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) where he was booked and confined.
Paulo Talili was also Mirandized and he told investigators that he understood his rights, and he wished to remain silent. It was later revealed by investigators that Talili had an outstanding bench warrant issued by the District Court in August 21, 2020 for failure to appear in court.
Talili was later transported to the TCF where he was booked and confined.
Paulo Maea was Mirandized as well and he informed investigators that he understood of his rights, and also wished to remain silent. He was later booked and confined at TCF.
Investigators also questioned the other three individuals who were apprehended at the Aetui residence before they were released. According to the male individual’s statement to investigators, he admitted using and smoking ice and hanging out at the Aetui residence near the landfill.
He stated that Maea was present at the Aetui residence since the morning and carried his black back bag with him all the time. Maea had his bag with him when officers came to the Aetui residence. The male individual was later released.
The two females from Alofau and Pago Pago were the last people that were questioned by investigators. Investigators informed them that they were not in custody or under arrest. They were also advised that could stop the questioning at any time and if they wished to leave they could do so.
According to the female from Alofau, she came from the hospital around 1:00p.m and went to meet her friend (the female from Pago Pago). When they were on the bus going westbound near Futiga, her Pago Pago friend told her that she wanted to go to the lapisi to get her bag and phone from her boyfriend.
They got there and met with a male individual who gave the woman from Pago Pago her bag and phone from her boyfriend. As they were at the area, Maea walked up to them and asked for a cigarette and they observed Maea carrying a black bag and a black and silver wristlet. Maea went back to the Aetui residence after they gave him a cigarette.
It wasn’t long until the police came and they ran and hid in the bushes. They were later captured and transported to the TPS. Both female individuals were later released after they were questioned by investigators.