16 Feb 2006

Samoa Supreme Court begins hearing cases of drug ring accused

9:28 am on 16 February 2006

Only six of eight people arrested by police in simultaneous drug raids earlier this month have appeared in the Samoa Supreme Court.

Those charged are Semisi Lafi, Joseph Faurknar also known as Joseph Palagi, Francis Matthis, Patrick Chan Chui, Tofele Tavui, and Duncan Ah Hi.

The defendants ages range from 27 to 49.

The Samoa Observer newspaper reports that the men have been charged with possession of narcotics, possession of utensils associated with drug use and possession of unlawful weapons.

Mr Faurknar was allegedly found in possession of two pistols, live ammunition, 17 small branches of marijuana, 600 marijuana seeds, nine glass tubes, an air pressure hose, and unnamed narcotics weighing 180 grams.

At the time of his arrest Mr Faurknar was awaiting trial for possession of ice.

No pleas were taken.

The men have been held at Tafaigata prison and will appear in court again today for bail hearings.

Police believe they were part of a drug syndicate with overseas ties.

It's not yet known why one man and a woman who were also arrested have not been charged.