Police bravery applauded after raid

By Joyetter Feagaimaali'i 07 December 2020, 10:00AM

The Minister of Police and Correction Services, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, has commended Police for a recent successful raid and seizure of up to 4,000 cannabis plants.

“I signed the warrant for the raid, but it was bothering me that I am not the one out there carrying out the mandates,” said Minister Tialavea.

Last week, three men were arrested after Police seized 4000 marijuana plants while executing an armed raid on drug plantations deep in the mountains of Satapuala and Faleatiu on Tuesday.

Police confiscated the drugs after Police scouring four marijuana farms.

Police involved in the raid arrived at its headquarters with seven cars loaded with marijuana plants that were up to six feet tall.

The Minister said that it was not easy signing a warrant knowing lives are on the line.

“I may have signed it. but my heart goes out to the Commissioner [Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil], Deputy Commissioner Auapa’au Logoitino FIlipo, [for] leading the operation," said the Minister.

“This is not an easy job, they are putting their life on the line to assure our country is drug free.

"Police Officers put their lives on the line everyday to keep everyone safe: our families and our communities safe. They put themselves directly into situations most of us would run away from, and see things on a daily basis most people would rather not think about. 

"Some officers give their lives upholding the law and it is only appropriate that we honour these Police Officers and pay them the respect they rightfully deserve."

The Minister commended Police for their "selfless" service.

But he also mentioned another raid last year, which was the biggest drug bust in Samoan history at Faleatiu. 

From that operation Police say they netted about 10,000 marijuana plants, firearms, methamphetamine, ammunition and cash.

The operation, which began deep in the woods of Faleatiu, led to an armed standoff but ended without any weapons being fired and six suspects being arrested.

Last week, the Commissioner said they executed a search warrant following numerous complaints of narcotics being sold in the area.

“It’s believed that methamphetamine is being exchanged [for] cannabis,” said Fuiavaili’ili following the raid.

Police involved 14 cars and about 60 frontline officers in the operation.

“Naturally in that area there were shootings in the past, therefore the Police were armed as well and the thing is, we’re not there to use these firearms, we had those [guns] for our protection, but not a single shot was fired,” the Commissioner said.

“The Police had the opportunity to use our drones for their operation and during the raid, they had footage of people living in shacks on the mountains, but they could not be located during the raid.

“Police went all the way to the top [of the mountain] using the new road in Faleatiu and Satapuala.

“We had to use our [four wheel drive] to get to where we [needed] to go, but it is not as much as we collected last year [in] November where we got over 10,000 plants and [this is] 4,000 plants and this goes to show that these thugs have kept their activities up there and maybe they moved somewhere else.”

The Commissioner said they wanted to clear the marijuana farms before the “Christmas sales”.

“It was a very successful operation,” said the Commissioner.

The names of the arrested men were not released.

But the Commissioner said he was thankful there were no injuries.

“And hopefully it sends a message to anyone who is selling or growing marijuana in any area, we will come and we will shut it down,” he said.

“I would like to say thanks to the Alii ma Faipule (village council) of Satapuala and Faleatiu for allowing us to go up there and helping us throughout the year on this [drug] issue.”

He said there were no weapons confiscated.

The Commissioner said that at the marijuana farms, they saw first hand how “poorly” the drug-growing 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 very poor conditions and unhealthy,” he said.

By Joyetter Feagaimaali'i 07 December 2020, 10:00AM

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