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Taxi driver busted for drugs after passenger calls the cops

American Samoa High Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The 52-year-old taxi driver accused of unlawful possession of a glass pipe containing methamphetamine has pled guilty.

Aleki Taumaoe appeared in High Court last week for a Change of Plea hearing. He is represented by Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill, while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney Laura Garvey.

Taumaoe, out on a $5,000 surety bond, was initially charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a class D felony punishable by 5-10 years in jail, and a fine between $5,000-$20,000.

Under a plea agreement with the government, Taumaoe agrees to plead guilty to a lesser amended charge, a class D felony, punishable by up to 5 years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.

With his guilty plea, Taumaoe admits that on Feb. 12, 2019, he had on him a glass pipe containing methamphetamine. On the day in question, according to the government, a female passenger contacted police regarding the defendant, whose taxi she rode in that morning.

The woman said the defendant’s taxi picked her up from the airport and dropped her off at the Laufou Shopping Center.

Enroute to Nuuuli, the woman said Taumaoe pulled up next to another taxi at Lions Park, after which Taumaoe exited his taxi, walked to the other taxi, and spoke with the driver for about 10 minutes.

Taumaoe returned to his taxi, holding something in his left hand. The woman said the object looked like a glass pipe, which Taumaoe hid under his seat before they left the Park.

When Taumaoe dropped the woman off at the Laufou Shopping Center, the woman jotted down his license plate number and then called police.

Police spotted Taumaoe’s taxi in front of an Asian store in Nuuuli. They approached him and asked if he could come with them to the Tafuna Substation to discuss an important matter. After a brief conversation with police, Taumaoe agreed to a search of his vehicle, during which police found a glass pipe containing meth hidden under the driver’s seat.

When asked what was inside the glass pipe, the defendant replied in Samoan, “o le aisa” (it’s methamphetamine). Taumaoe refused to reveal to police the identity of the person who gave him the glass pipe containing meth. He only said he knows the person by face.