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Court finds man guilty of importing meth

A Samoan based in the United States has been found guilty of importing methamphetamine, worth $60,000 to Samoa in 2018, when he entered Faleolo international airport. 

Tafuna Tauialo, of Vaitele and Vancouver Washington, was found guilty of possession of narcotics, namely methamphetamine and one count of importing meth. 

A third charge of importation of meth was dismissed by Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke when he delivered the verdict on Tauialo this week.

The defendant was represented by lawyer, Unasa Iuni Sapolu, while Attorney General’s Office lawyer, Fuifui Ioane was the prosecutor.  

It was the prosecution’s case that on the 23 April 2018, Tauialo together with his son arrived at the Faleolo airport and the accused was in possession of meth weighing 26.6 grams.

Police estimated the illegal drug to be worth $60,000  

The evidence called during the hearing is that a K9 name Flame detected the illegal substance when he showed Change of Behaviour (C.O.B.) for Tauialo and his son at the airport terminal. 

It is Faalogo’s evidence that Flame had signaled a non-classical C.O.B.

He had explained that there are two C.O.B., it is classical and a non-classical. 

The Court heard that Flame showed a non-classical C.O.B. which is when the dog sits on the ground indicating that it is sure of who has the illegal substance. 

Classical is signalled when the K9 dog shows head movement by flicking it up and down continuously indicating that it is unsure of who is carrying the illegal substance. 

The customs marshal later discovered a black bag identified to have belong to Tauialo that was suspected to have the meth. 

Police tendered the bag, a jacket that was inside it that had a block socks with a zip lock bag that contained crystal granule. 

The bag when tendered to the Court on behalf of the accused had a large tear.

But witnesses from police said they saw the bag on that day it was discovered and it had no tear. 

The defence case is that the police investigation was seriously flawed that the accused was not in possession of meth. 

It is also their claim that Tauialo did not import the illicit substance and prosecution has not proven the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
In his verdict, Justice Leiataualesa accepts that Flame showed a non-classical C.O.B. in relation to Tauialo and his son on the day they arrived at Faleolo airport.

“The non-classical C.O.B. shown by Flame meant that Flame did not identify which of the accused and his son or whether it was both of them for which narcotics was detected,” he said. 

Justice Leiataualesa was satisfied that prosecution has proven two charges against Tauialo with the third charge being dismissed. 

The defendant was remanded in custody pending his sentencing on 20 November. 

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