Customs chief urges cooperation between the two Samoas

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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American Samoa’s Deputy Treasurer, Keith Gebauer.

American Samoa’s Deputy Treasurer, Keith Gebauer.

The American Samoa’s Deputy Treasurer who is overseeing Customs, Keith Gebauer is calling on Customs and Border Control to work together to combat the smuggling of drugs between the two Samoas. 

He also made it clear the American Samoa Customs Officers do not inspect outbound cargos. 

Mr Gebauer’s response was sent in an email to Samoa Observer following the methamphetamine or ice package that was intercepted at the Fagali’i Airport. 

Last week, Acting Assistant Police Commissioner, Sala’a Moananu Sala’a, told the Samoa Observer that a package from American Samoa went through the scanning machine and Customs found methamphetamine (ice) in the package. 

Two men in their 40’s have been arrested and charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine. 

Mr Gebauer told Samoa Observer it’s not general policy to comment on media reports before any pending investigations have been completed. 

“As of this email, I am unaware of any official inquiry from the Samoa Police Department to the American Samoa Department of Treasury, Customs Division. “As such, it would be inappropriate to comment on what appears to be an open case.

“While we were aware of the comments attributed to the Samoa Police Department's spokesperson, it would be inadvisable and unproductive to offer any comments without having all the relevant facts and information, especially, given the serious nature of the alleged criminal activity,” explained Mr Gebauer. 

He further noted that American Samoa Custom’s Division does not normally inspect outbound passengers or cargo. However “all inbound passengers and cargo are subject to review and searches as prescribed by our local laws.” 

Mr Gebauer congratulated the Fagali'i Airport Customs/Border agents and their use of the scanning equipment for a job well done. 

“The American Samoa Customs Division recently launched its own scanning unit to aid in our own border security efforts. 

“Ideally, this is an area that we can learn from one another. “Improving enforcement of border security measures and the intercepting of illegal drugs and contraband are in both our countries best interest. 

“We would all be better served working collaboratively together to address these issues that can do great harm to our communities. 

“We are ready to assist in any manner possible and we look forward to working with the appropriate Samoa Departments and Agencies to combat this joint problem,” said Mr Gebauer. 

Assistant Police Commissioner said the methamphetamine baggies weighed up to 5.9grammes. “The men were arrested when they turned up to collect the package. “They are scheduled to appear in the Supreme Court on 17 July 2017.”

Sala’a said they are still investigating how the package got through Customs in American Samoa. “Something is not right with this picture and there are many questions at the moment.

 “This is a very serious offence,” he said adding that the Police will ensure lawbreakers are dealt with as harshly as possible under the law.

The Police also confirmed that one of the two men, a 42-year-old accused has previous drug-related convictions.

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