Former Customs Officer Fined $3,000 for Importing Methamphetamine

"In the absence of knowledge and intent, your culpability in terms of the offending has been reduced significantly.."

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Former customs officer Pueleo Sefululua Peseta who was arrested and charged for the importation of 900 grams of methamphetamine has been fined $3,000 tala.

The 900 grams of “ice” discovered on Tuesday 2nd February 2021, were split into two packages, vacuum-packed, and concealed inside boxes of cereal.

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Methamphetamine and quality grade cannabis imported into Samoa concealed in cereal boxes from the US.

The case dragged on and was brought from the Supreme Court down to the Distrct Court. It was not until November 2023 that Peseta was found guilty of two counts of importing illegal drugs into Samoa.

Peseta, had been working with the Ministry of Customs and Revenue (MCR) for four years at the time of his arrest, was charged by police for allegedly importing two separate consignments of drugs that arrived into Samoa from the US in December 2020 and February 2021.

Both consignments were packed in similar fashion, concealed within cartons of popular American cereal.

During the hearing, ACEO of Ports Operations, Alvin Onesemo, testified that the boxes containing the drugs were labelled with the name Pueleo Peseta, sent by a Siaosi Mataio.

The accused denied the charges, maintaining his position that he had no knowledge of the origins of the consignment and did not know anyone by the name of Siaosi Mataio.

In handing down his sentence Judge Loau Donald Kerslake said that although the quantity of meth imported was an aggravating factor, the Courts accepted that Peseta’s insistence he did not know anything about the shipment addressed to him.

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“In the absence of knowledge and intent, your culpability in terms of the offending has been reduced significantly to warrant a departure from the guideline bands proposed by the Prosecution..”

The AGs prosecution team had proposed jail time under Zhang and Fatu and applied by the courts in Police v Tafuna Tauialo.

“In essence a term of imprisonment would not be appropriate in this case,” states the sentencing report.

Peseta was convicted of two counts of importing prohibited substances and sentenced to $1,500 for each.

“Your total fine is therefore $3,000 to be paid within 14 days..”

The importation of prohibited goods in Samoa under the Customs Act 2014 carries a maximum penalty of 6 years and a matter for the Distrct Court.

Supreme Court deals with crimes carrying a maximum penalty of 7 years.

There is no section of the Samoa Customs Act that deals with the importation of drugs specifically.

 

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