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Samoan man sentenced 35 years after “calculated act of savagery”

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — One of the Samoan defendants involved in kidnapping and drug trafficking case in Alaska was sentenced last week to 35 years in federal prison by the federal court in Anchorage, according to federal prosecutors and court records.

Thirty-one year old Faamanu Vaifanua, aka “Junior,” was also ordered by U.S District Court Judge Sharon Gleason, who presided over sentencing, to pay restitution jointly with other co-defendants in an amount close to one million dollars.

According to prosecutors, the other co-defendants are:

• Macauther Christmas Vaifanua, aka “Mac,” 35, and older brother of Junior. And “Mac” has already been sentenced to 50 years in federal prison on kidnapping and drug trafficking charges.

• Jeffrey Ahvan, 33, pleaded guilty to kidnapping in October 2019 and is awaiting sentencing.

• Rex Faumui, 28, pleaded guilty to kidnapping in October 2022 and is awaiting sentencing.

According to court documents, the Vaifanua brothers distributed heroin in the Anchorage area through a kidnapped victim (who was not identified by name in court filings, only by “Victim A”) between January 2015 and August 2017.

Believing that the victim had stolen drugs from them, “Mac” lured the victim to his home in August 2017. As the victim was leaving the residence, he was led instead into the garage where he was forcibly bound and gagged. The victim was then beaten and tortured for nearly an hour by “Junior” and “Mac” and two other co-defendants in an assault that was captured on Mac’s home video surveillance system.

Court documents state that the Vaifanua brothers and their co-defendants used an aluminum baseball bat, a metal broom stick and their hands and feet to beat the victim into unconsciousness, causing severe injuries and permanent disability.

After a certain point, believing that the victim was either dead or near death, they placed the victim inside a metal dog kennel while still bound and gagged.

Court documents state that Junior used the metal baseball bat to repeatedly beat the victim’s head, face, chest, hands, arms and legs. Junior also repeatedly punched the victim in the head and body and then kicked and stomped on the victim’s head.

After the beating, the Vaifanua brothers and their co-defendants took part in cleaning up the garage. The defendants then “crammed” the victim’s body into a wire dog kennel, into which they also threw a bloody towel that had been placed under the victim’s head during the beating.

The defendants then threatened a person in the area at gunpoint to back his pickup truck to the garage door. The group loaded the kennel into the back of the truck with the victim still in it. The driver was told at gunpoint to leave and never be seen again.

After driving away from the area, the driver stopped to see what had been loaded into his truck. Upon seeing the victim, he immediately drove to a hospital emergency room where the victim received life-saving medical attention including brain surgery, according to the court filing.

The victim was comatose when he arrived at the hospital and had suffered brain hemorrhaging and damage; skull and face fractures; and multiple bone fractures.

Before the defendants left the residence where the victim was beaten, the men “shook hands and hugged one another,” said court filings.

In a national news release issued late last week, U.S. Attorney S. Lane Tucker for the District of Alaska said this “was a calculated act of savagery against another human being, not a random act of violence.”

“The Vaifanua brothers will spend decades in federal prison for their complete disregard for human life,” Tucker said. “Drug dealers across the state should take note – vicious attacks will not be tolerated for any reason.”

Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Donald W. Lee II, of the FBI Anchorage Field Office, described Junior’s action as “cruel disregard to human life”.

“The abuse suffered by the victim is heinous,” stated Anchorage Police Chief Michael Kerle. “The physical, emotional, and psychological effects of this magnitude of trauma are incomprehensible.”

The Anchorage Police Department (APD), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S Marshals Service (USMS) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) investigated the case.