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Feds seeking to seize farm over drug use

SALEM, Mo. (AP) — Federal and state law enforcement agencies have filed a lawsuit asking to seize a 350-acre south-central Missouri farm where concerts were held, because they allege that drugs were bought, sold and used on the property.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the Missouri Highway Patrol and the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed the complaint this past week in federal court in St. Louis, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The agencies said in the complaint that a four-year investigation of the farm, called Camp Zoe and valued at $600,000, found that the farm’s owner and event operators were aware of drug activity during events and “took no immediate action to prevent” their sale and use.

The complaint alleges participants were using and selling cocaine, marijuana, LSD, ecstasy, psilocybin mushrooms, opium and marijuana-laced food.

Camp Zoe, located 150 miles southwest of St. Louis near Salem, holds an annual Grateful Dead festival called Schwagstock every year, as well as biker rallies and other concerts.

The site was a former kids summer camp but was bought in 2004 by Jimmy Tebeau, a member of the Schwag, a Grateful Dead tribute band. Tebeau has not been charged with a crime, but he would not have to be for the court to approve the seizure of the property. A civil asset forfeiture law enables the federal government to take property that is relied upon by criminals as part of an illegal moneymaking enterprise.

Tebeau’s lawyer, Dan Viets, said the law is unfair and lets the government take land, money and homes nearly at will.

“One doesn’t even need to be accused of a crime, let alone convicted of one to be threatened with the loss of everything you own,” Viets said. “That’s the threat.”

The farm remains in Tebeau’s ownership until the case is resolved.

Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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