Two men arrested after drugs, guns and money found in vehicle
Pago Pago, AMERICA SAMOA — Two men were arrested and charged after police officers allegedly discovered drugs, guns and money inside a black bag found when their vehicle was searched.
Faafetai Lefatia Jr, also know as “UNA BOY” and Daisy Mareko were arrested by police on Thursday of last week, Nov. 7, 2019. They made their initial appearances Tuesday, Nov. 12 in court.
Judge Elvis P. Patea was the presiding judge, while prosecuting the case was Assistant Attorney General Jason Mitchell, with Assistant Public Defender Bob Stuart representing both defendants.
Lefatia Jr and Mareko are each charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine; one count of unlawful possession of firearms, both felonies; along with one count of unlawful possession of ammunition, a class A misdemeanor.
Lefatia Jr’s bail is set at $20,000 while Mareko’s is at $10,000.
Preliminary hearing (PX) is scheduled for tomorrow at 10:00a.m. for both men.
The government claims that on Nov. 7th at around 7:40 a.m, two police officers who were patrolling in Futiga, heading westward, observed a black Hyundai vehicle (license plate 991C) parked in front of a store in Puapua.
According to the government, this is the same vehicle that was allegedly involved in a hot pursuit with police on the early morning of Nov. 3rd around 1:30 a.m. However, police were unable to stop the vehicle and it got away.
Upon approaching the vehicle (991C), the two officers made contact with an individual that was sitting in the driver’s seat (later identified as Faafetai Lefatia Jr). Police told Lefatia the reason why he was being approached — informing him that the vehicle was involved in a “hot pursuit” with police on Nov. 3rd, and police needed to locate the driver of the vehicle.
Lefatia Jr verbally stated that he did not know who was driving the vehicle that night and also kept denying that he was the driver that night.
As officers continued their conversation with Lefatia Jr, they observed a red and white vehicle (license plate 7999) pull up and park in front of the laundromat connected to the store where Lefatia Jr’s vehicle was parked.
Officers saw a male individual, exit the vehicle from the passenger side of the 7999- vehicle and approach Lefatia Jr’s vehicle. It was at that time when Lefatia Jr instructed the male individual (later identified as Daisy Mareko) to take the groceries from inside his vehicle (991C) and a black bag that was in the back seat. Mareko complied with Lefatia Jr’s instructions.
The conversation between Lefatia Jr and Mareko was observed by the two officers, who were standing at the side of the 991C vehicle where Lefatia Jr was seated. They also saw Mareko follow Lefatia Jr.’s instructions.
Following Mareko grabbing the groceries and the black bag, officers asked Lefatia Jr who the black bag belonged to, and Lefatia Jr stated it belonged to Mareko.
At this time, Lefatia Jr. was escorted to the Tafuna substation for further investigation by police officers.
When Mareko took the groceries and the black bag and put them inside the 7999-vehicle, he walked into the store, walked back out and entered the 7999-vehicle again. As the vehicle entered the highway, motorcycle officers (still on the scene) observed that both the driver and Mareko were not wearing their seat belts. These officers then pursued the vehicle and it turned onto the dirt road that leads to Le Aute.
Upon conducting the vehicle stop, officers dismounted from their motorcycles and approached the driver and passenger of the vehicle; and informed both the driver of the vehicle and the passenger (Mareko) of the reason for the traffic stop — that both weren’t wearing their seat belts. Officers then asked them for identification.
When Mareko failed to provide identification, officers then asked him to step out of the vehicle. Officers then asked Mareko who the black bag belonged to and Mareko stated that it belonged to Faafetai Jr (Lefatia).
Officers asked him if they could look inside the bag and Mareko said, “yeah, go ahead,” and handed the bag over to officers while it was slightly opened.
One officer then opened the big zipper completely and immediately observed two guns inside the bag. Officers immediately detained the two male individuals and called in for police assistance.
When police back-up arrived, the vehicle was impounded and the two men were taken to the Tafuna Substation for further investigation.
It was at this time, an inventory was conducted of the bag in the presence of Lefatia Jr inside a conference room.
Inside the bag, there was a total of $2,949 in cash; 2 handguns (one .22 cal single-six and one 32 S&W.L); 11 ammunition (one .22 round and 10.25 auto rounds); 4 small cut up straws containing white crystalline substances (which tested positive for methamphetamine); a medium sized baggie containing white crystalline substances (tested positive for methamphetamine); 99 medium sized empty baggies; an iPhone 8 with a black phone cover and serval other objects (all noted on property forms).
Lefatia Jr and Mareko refused to make a statement to police. Lefatia Jr also refused to sign the copy of the arrest warrant containing information regarding the case against him.
The driver of the vehicle (7999) was also interviewed by police at the Tafuna Substation. He told police that he and Mareko went to the store to buy cigarettes. As soon as they parked in front of the store, Mareko walked over to the black vehicle (991C) and bent over inside the passenger side.
He then saw Mareko grabbing a bag of groceries and opening the back passenger door, grabbing a black bag. Mareko went inside the store and came back out and they left the parking lot of the store.
A few moments later, their vehicle was pulled over by police and the black bag was discovered inside the vehicle he was driving.
After the police interview, the driver of the 7999-vehicle was later released to go home.
Lefatia Jr., who tested positive for marijuana while on probation was sentenced by the District Court in August of this year to 12 months on several conditions, which include being a law abiding citizen and staying away from alcohol and illegal drugs. He is on probation in three separate cases.
According to the court, during Lefatia Jr.’s Disposition Hearing three months ago, the defendant tested positive for marijuana when he was stopped by the Probation office for his monthly visit.