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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (February 28, 2002 - Samoa News/PINA Nius Online)---American Samoa Customs inspectors recently intercepted 15 small plastic bags allegedly filled with marijuana and hidden in the false bottom of a box containing cooked food from Samoa.

Acting Chief Customs Officer James Butler said the "umu" box arrived by plane unaccompanied.

Butler said the Customs agents inspected it and located a false bottom that contained the bags.

"These people are getting professional," Butler said of the shipment. "And again, the credit goes to our Customs inspectors for a job well-done."

The seizure came as three people were arrested at Apia's Fagali'i International Airport in a similar case. They were trying to smuggle marijuana on a Samoa Air flight to American Samoa.

The trio also tried to use boxes that they claimed contained food.

Airline officials are now inspecting all cargo that has no proper destination address and when the person sending it fails to provide an ID.

The marijuana busts came soon after Samoa's Supreme Court noted the drastic increase in marijuana cases that have come before the court since the beginning of the year.

During court hearings on a single day there were 65 criminal cases and 39 of them narcotic related.

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

For additional reports from the Samoa News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Samoa News.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

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