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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (May 15, 1998 - Samoa News)---Local authorities believe that neighboring (Western) Samoa is being used as a shipping port for illegal drugs such as crystal methamphetamine, also known as "ice."

Authorities believe, based on sources, that drugs are being imported into American Samoa via Samoa.

According to informed sources who asked for anonymity, they have evidence drug importers are feeling the heat as a result of beefed up screening and security at the Pago Pago International Airport. This security includes the use of K-9 dogs to detect illegal drugs passing through the airport.

As a result, the importers have changed their routes by allegedly shipping the contraband via commercial aircraft to Apia from Hawaii and the United States.

"We're currently working with the (Western) Samoa Customs Division to track down the ringleaders of the alleged operations," the informed source told Samoa News yesterday. "We have statements signed by suspects arrested in the past year for possession of a controlled substance, such as ice, that the contraband is being brought to the territory via Upolu (Samoa's main island)."

As part of the joint enforcement, the source said, they have identified several suspects who are selling the contraband locally and in Apia.

"You'd be surprise who is implicated in this smuggling operations," the source said. "Some people are prominent in our community, while others are people who we believe could not be involved in such an illegal operation."

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to samoanews@samoatelco.com

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