10,000-plus marijuana plants still in Police custody
Over 10,000 marijuana plants which the Police confiscated in the biggest drug bust in Samoa’s history in November last year remain in their custody.
The Police Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, confirmed the marijuana from the Faleatiu raid remains in their possession until the trial of seven suspects from the raid conclude.
Fuiavailiili refused to reveal where the drugs are stored at the moment, pointing out the potential risk of them being stolen.
The marijuana plants have a street value of $10 million tala according to Police estimates.
It was just last week that a man was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for breaking into the Police Training Office the day after the raid to steal a sack of marijuana.
Fuiavailiili said Police have never brought in a drug haul of such a magnitude and storing it in the training room on the evening of the raid was the safest place.
Pauvi Limu later broke into the Police training room and walked out the front door with the drugs.
The Commissioner added that although he would rather have the drugs disposed of immediately after the raid, the Attorney General’s Office had advised the Police to hold onto it until trial.
Attorney General, Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff said the physical cannabis evidence is still with police for safe keeping pending a Court order permitting it to be destroyed once the matters are finalised.
“The defendant has pleaded guilty and is awaiting final sentence, where this order to destroy the material can then be confirmed, now that a full trial is not at this time, required,” said Lemalu.
Tuanai Ioka has pleaded guilty to four charges; cultivating 10,964 prohibited plants, possession of ammunition and firearms namely 12 gauge rifle, .22 rifle and one .303 revolver.
Ioka was scheduled for sentence last week has been further adjourned until 21 February 2020.
This is due to concerns raised by Ioka in the Court that while he was found at the plantation during the raid the Police have failed to charge the owner of the plantation.
Other accused being separately charged is Senerita Mauolefale Asi Malu and her husband Kilifi Lealaitagomua Palau.
Malu has already pleaded guilty to three charges of possession of narcotics while her husband has entered not guilty plea to the same charges and to possession of ammunition.
Another couple malaesaili Sinapati and Alisa Sinapati have denied charges of possession of marijuana.
Other defendants Fotu Baby Sanele, Parataiso Toailoa, Iakopo Iakopo and Uili Manulelea have all denied charges of possession of marijuana and ammunitions against them.
Their hearing is scheduled for 14 September this year.