Meth Trial Sheds Light on Work of Police Canines

About the author:

Tina Mata'afa-Tufele is a Pasifika journalist that has been writing and covering news related to the Samoan experience for over a decade. She's written for Samoa News in American Samoa, (covering news from Hawaii, the U.S.

  • Defendant Tafuna Tauialo
    Defendant Tafuna Tauialo

The crystal methamphetamine case against a Samoan man from Alaska, the United States of America, is shedding light on the work of police canines Flame and Mozart.

Trial for the meth case began early this week before Supreme Court Justice Leiataualesa Daryl M. Clarke.

The defendant, Tafuna Tauialo is accused of smuggling 26.6 grams of methamphetamine into the country.

He is facing three charges: one count each of importation of narcotics namely meth, possession of narcotics and importation of a prohibited substance.

Tauialo maintains he is innocent.

Mozart is said to have sniffed out the alleged drugs when the defendant arrived in Samoa via Fiji Airways at the Faleolo International Airport in April 2018.

A prosecution witness, a police officer who was working as a Scout on the day in question, testified Friday that it was the “change of behaviour,” or, COB from Mozart that alerted him of the suspected drugs.

Flame and Mozart each have a handler and the Scout’s job is to assist the canines and their handlers, the officer said.

As Mozart screened disembarking passengers off the Fiji Airways flight, the canine stopped at Tauialo and another man who was with him.

Mozart looked at his Scout to indicate suspicion of illegal substances, the police officer said.

Luggage belonging to the men was checked by authorities, Duty and Customs. Their luggage was also scanned in a security machine.

The police officer said they stood by with Mozart as the luggage was opened and inspected and the alleged drugs were found in a black sock in one of the bags belonging to the men.

An employee used his cell phone to photograph their findings, the officer testified.

Reportedly, the 26.6 grams of meth, known for its slang name “ice,” has a street value of $60,000.