Update, Friday, November 12, 2 p.m.: Click here to read our follow-up post with comments from Jimmy Tebeau's attorney and more explanation of the asset forfeiture process.
Update, Wednesday, December 1, 10:30 a.m.: Click here to read our latest follow-up, which takes a look at how state troopers have arrested more than 2,000 people at checkpoints near Camp Zoe.
(Original post below.)
The DEA, Missouri State Highway Patrol and U.S. Attorney's Office are trying to seize Camp Zoe, a 350-acre campground in central Missouri that hosts the music gathering Schwagstock -- after a four-year-long investigation allegedly uncovered rampant drug use and sales on the property.
According to a complaint filed November 8 in Eastern Missouri District Court, "over the past several years law enforcement agents have specifically observed the open sales of cocaine, marijuana, LSD (acid), ecstasy, psilocybin mushrooms, opium and marijuana-laced food products by individuals attending the music festival and made multiple undercover purchases of illegal drugs."
The paperwork shows that the authorities hope to use a mechanism called asset forfeiture to take the property. Under a forfeiture, they would not need to convict the property's owners of a crime -- or even charge them with one. The burden of proof is much lower.
The Camp Zoe property is located about 150 miles southwest of St. Louis near the town of Salem. It is owned and operated by Jimmy Tebeau, a member of the local Grateful Dead tribute band The Schwag. The complaint alleges that Tebeau -- who has not been charged with a crime -- and other Camp Zoe staff members were "in the immediate area" when the drug deals went down and "took no immediate action to prevent the activity."
Schwagstock 45 was held earlier this year on September 17 and 18. The complaint reveals that "undercover purchases have been made as recently as September, 2010" but also says the investigation stretches all the way back to 2006 and includes evidence from "surveillance, undercover operations, source information, bank records, and interviews."
Tebeau has not returned calls seeking comment on the government's claims.
Joe Grasso, the booking agent for The Schwag, declined to comment. Grasso says his contract expired and he is no longer the band's booking agent.
According to the Camp Zoe website, Tebeau purchased the land, took up residence there, and started hosting the Schwagstock festivals in spring of 2004. The camp has also been the site of the Pagan Spirit Gathering, the Bluegrass Jam, Biker rallies and Gateway Burners, a gathering similar to Burning Man.
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