Speeding and no seat belt leads to two drug arrests
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A male driver and a female passenger of a vehicle pulled over by police officers for a seat belt violation last week are now in custody after officers discovered illegal drugs, paraphernalia, a handgun and ammunition inside the vehicle.
The driver, Eddieboy Vaavale and the passenger, Rosemarie Siale made their initial appearance before District Court Judge Elvis P. Patea this week. Prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Laura Garvey, while Assistant Public Defender Bob Stuart is representing both defendants.
Va’avale is charged with one count of unlawful possess of methamphetamine; one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, both felonies; along with two charges of possession of arms, a class A misdemeanor.
Siale is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a felony.
Vaavale’s bail is set at $20,000, and Siale’s at $5,000.
The government claims that on the afternoon of Jan. 8, 2020, police patrolling the highway in Puapua saw a truck being driven at high speed; and also noted that the driver was not wearing his seat belt.
Cops pulled over the truck in front of a store in Puapua. And, while cops approached the vehicle, the driver of the vehicle, who was later identified as Vaavale, had already exited the truck, with a black bag in his hand.
Cops instructed Vaavale to get back inside the vehicle but Vaavale refused and demanded to know why they had stopped his vehicle. However, the matter was resolved calmly, with Vaavale getting back inside the vehicle per police instructions.
A female was sitting at the passenger seat, who was later identified as Siale, the co-defendant in this case.
When asked for his driver’s license, Vaavale said he didn’t have it with him. His name was then run through the Office of the Motor Vehicle’s (OMV) system and it turned out that his driver’s license expired 2 years ago.
Police also checked the truck’s license plate and discovered that it did not belong to the truck.
Both Vaavale and Siale were then asked to step out of the vehicle.
Vaavale was then patted down where upon a .38 hand gun was found, leading to his immediate arrest.
Cops also searched the black bag Vaavale had in his possession when his vehicle was pulled over — and cops allegedly discovered inside the bag illegal drugs — 17 cut-up straws containing white crystalline substance, inside a medium ziploc baggie; 47 empty cut-up straw; and 52 stamp-sized baggies containing white crystalline substance inside another medium plastic baggie —and paraphernalia, as well as .38 ammunition.
A glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance was discovered inside the vehicle between the driver’s and the passenger’s seat.
Siale was also patted down by a female cop and a glass pipe containing a white crystalline substance was discovered inside her pants pocket.
Members of the DPS Vice and Narcotics Unit were notified about the illegal drugs, and Sgt. Det. Samantha Lam Yuen was assigned to investigate the said matter.
Both Siale and Vaavale were taken to the Tafuna Police Station for questioning. Each defendant was taken to different rooms for interviews.
When asked about the glass pipe containing white crystalline substance discovered in her possession, Siale told police that the glass pipe belonged to her. She further stated that she got the pipe from a male friend.
When asked about the illegal drugs, paraphernalia, handgun and ammunition discovered in his possession and inside his vehicle, Vaavale told investigators that everything that was inside the black bag and the vehicle belong to him. He also admited to police that he owned the gun.
In his written statement to investigators, Vaavale stated that he bought the drugs from a man in Vaitogi for the purpose of selling it to earn some money for him and his family. He said he’s been selling drugs for over a year now — and its a good and fast way to earn money.
Vaavale and Siale are scheduled to appeared in High Court this morning for arraignment, after they waived their rights to a preliminary examination in District Court this week.
Siale was convicted by the High Court for the charge of conspiracy to commit fraud, and was sentenced to 5 years probation with the condition that she serve a period of detention of 20 months at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF). She was one of the co-defendants involved in a Driver’s License scam with the Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV), a division of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) many years ago. Siale received a fake drivers license after she paid money to a former OMV employee.
Vaavale was arrested and charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, after a police raid on the Siaumau family compound in Petesa in July of last year.Vaavale’s case was bound over in High Court, and he remained in custody unable to post a $30,000 surety bond.
However, in October of last year, Vaavale’s case was dismissed after the court granted the government’s motion to dismiss the case against the defendant. The government cited in their motion to dismiss that Vaavale was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Three months after his case was dismissed, Vaavale is now back in court facing the same charges of unlawful possession of illegal drugs.