Satapuala mayor disputes marijuana report

The Mayor of Satapuala, Vaili Mimita, has disputed reports by the Police that 4,000 marijuana trees confiscated during a raid last Tuesday were located in plantations found in their village.

In a telephone interview with the Samoa Observer, the Mayor expressed his disappointment and claimed that the illegal drugs were discovered by armed Police officers in the Faleatiu area, not Satapuala.

He said the Satapuala Village Council did its own investigation after the Police raid and concluded that the marijuana trees were discovered on Faleatiu land.

“It was (located) at the neighbouring Satapuala and Faleatiu but inside the Faleatiu (area), it never passed the lands of Satapuala,” he said.

“After the raid, when the (police) officers went back to Apia on that same day, the Village Council conducted their own investigation on where the raid was at and it wasn’t at Satapuala.

“The (marijuana) plantation was located just underneath a mountain which all that portion of land belongs to Faleatiu and not Satapuala.”

According to the Mayor, only some of the detained youth who were allegedly involved in the illegal activity are from Satapuala. 

He said they visited the Police Headquarters in Apia to correct the report but were not given a proper response.

“We were referred to different consultants and we wanted to speak to the Commissioner directly but we were given the same response, no response,” he said.

Attempts by the Samoa Observer to get a comment from the Police Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, was unsuccessful at the time of going to press time.

But speaking at the Police Headquarters after the raid last Tuesday, Fuiavailiili said they went all the way to the top of the mountain using a new road in Faleatiu and Satapuala.

The Police seized 4000 marijuana plants after they executed an armed raid on drug plantations deep in the mountains. Led by the Commissioner, the drugs were confiscated after the Police spent the morning scouring four marijuana farms.

Around 2pm last Tuesday, the Police arrived at its headquarters with seven cars loaded with marijuana plants up to six feet tall.

“Early this morning (last Tuesday), we executed a search warrant following numerous complaints of narcotics being sold in the area,” the Police Commissioner said. “It’s believed that methamphetamine is being exchanged [for] cannabis.”

Fuiavailiili also acknowledged the Alii ma Faipule (village council) of Satapuala and Faleatiu for always allowing police to step foot in their lands during raids and throughout the year on the drug issue.

He added that no weapons were confiscated by the police during the raid and said that at the marijuana farms, they saw first hand how “poorly” the drug accused were living.

“They had makeshift houses [made out of] tarpaulin and tree branches. They [were] also eating tinned fish; noodles and they drank from the rain. It was in very poor conditions and unhealthy,” he said. 

“[However], we are very grateful for this successful operation and also [to apply] our training on drones and also our system and tactics that we have learned this month.”

In November last year, in what was billed as the largest drug bust in Samoan history, dozens of undercover Police netted about 10,000 marijuana plants, firearms, methamphetamine, ammunition and cash. 

The operation led to an armed standoff but ended without any weapons being fired and six suspects being arrested. That raid involved about 100 plainclothes and uniformed Police Officers. 

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