Translated from Faa-Samoa files. Former Customs Officer, Pueleo Sefulua Peseta, has been found guilty of two counts of importing illegal drugs into the country.
The decision was delivered by District Court Judge, Loau Donald Kerslake.
In December 2020, a joint operation by Samoa Customs and Samoa Police seized over $570k tala worth of ‘ice’ and $50k tala worth of high grade marijuana brought in as ‘personal effects’, concealed within boxes of popular American cereal.
Another drug bust in February 2021 saw close to $900,000 worth of illegal substances seized, which led to Peseta’s arrest in February 2021, in relation to both incidents.
Both consignments were packed in similar fashion, concealed within boxes of cereal. The charges were, however, brought in the District Court and Peseta has been charged with just the first consignment.
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.
Peseta says he had received a phone call from Transam to come and pay handling fees for a consignment sent to him. He claimed that when he went to Transam to pay for the fees to release the shipment, he thought that it was for the shipment of his car’s new engine from New Zealand.
Peseta is charged and convicted of importing 454.8 grams of meth from the U.S.
In delivering his ruling Judge Kerslake of the District Court said Prosecution had proven beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Peseta was involved in the importation of drugs.
The accused remains on bail to await sentencing in December 2023 – almost three years to the date of the police drug bust.