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Addendum, 1-19-2012: The seizure of Camp Zoe and the persecution of Jimmy Tebeau has serious implications for the ability of musical festivals and concerts to exist outside a highly regulated, controlled environment.

Please consider making a $10, $25, or larger donation to Americans for Forfeiture Reform to support our documentary efforts to publicize the Camp Zoe cause and work for reform at the state and federal levels.


The seizure of the 352-acre Camp Zoe property in Southeast Missouri has so far garnered substantial attention both in America and internationally. That’s because this is no ordinary seizure; without (so far) being charged with a crime, the property owner, musician Jimmy Tebeau, is having his land taken from him in a process that strips him of his rights under both the US and Missouri constitutions.

The DEA has filed a claim for seizure and forfeiture of the property on the grounds that for years, concert-goers have engaged in consumption and transaction of illegal drugs. Under this theory, every major music festival in the country could be shut down by law enforcement whose motive is not to make Americans safer through the protection of their rights, but the profit that police can make by taking property from citizens.

From today’s St. Louis Riverfront Times:

Only later did Goebel learn that the raid was the culmination of a four-year-long investigation by the DEA and the Missouri State Highway Patrol into alleged drug use and sales by Camp Zoe concertgoers. No one — including Camp Zoe owner Jimmy Tebeau — has been charged with a crime, but the eastern Missouri U.S. Attorney’s Office is attempting to confiscate the 352-acre property using a controversial process called asset forfeiture.

It’s not just alarming to festival attendees like Goebel. The situation has other music festival organizers worried that they, too, might be held accountable for any illegal activity that happens to take place at their event.

“It has gotten our attention,” says Brian Cohen, the organizer of St. Louis’ LouFest. “All festivals take on some degree of liability. That’s why we hire security, medical personnel, etc. But the potential penalties in this case seem to put it in a different category. LouFest and Schwagstock are two very different animals, so it’s hard to know what impact this could have on us. But we’re definitely watching it.”

Dave Roland, an attorney with the for the non-profit advocacy group Freedom Center of Missouri, calls the Camp Zoe seizure “a shot across the bow” for individuals who host music festivals or popular events on private land.

“My home state is Tennessee,” Roland says. “What about Bonnaroo? The folks who own that property need to be very aware and very concerned. With any large gathering of young people, there’s probably going to be some illegal activity, and if that’s taking place, it appears that property could be subject to forfeiture.”

Yesterday’s RFT story on the Camp Zoe seizure implicates the motive for the seizure: keeping money flowing to law enforcement despite the existence of Missouri law directing forfeitures to education:

Eapen Thampy, a policy analyst for the Kansas City-based non-profit group Americans For Forfeiture Reform, obtained records of each Missouri county’s deposits into the state’s “School Building Revolving Fund” via a Sunshine request. Thampy then compared the records to state audits of the forfeiture activity. After crunching the numbers, he concludes that “90 percent of counties in Missouri are non-compliant” with the state law that requires forfeiture proceeds be used to fund public education.

“We’re talking $60 to $80 million that has been misappropriated,” he says. “‘State law enforcement has been able to dodge all requirements of the system and keep that money directly for their budgets.”

That last part is key. Missouri’s reforms only apply to forfeitures in the state system. But local law enforcement agencies know that they may still keep seizure profits for themselves if they use the federal system.

In federal cases, an agency such as the DEA takes a percentage of the money seized — usually 20 percent — and returns the remaining 80 percent to the local police, an exchange called “equitable sharing.” None of the money goes to the schools.

That $60-$80 million estimate is for the years 2008-2009, when the federal government reported disbursements of roughly $50 million to Missouri law enforcement agencies.  This $50 million in disbursements from the Dept. of Justice Equitable Sharing fund represent roughly $60 million in seizures, since the seizing DOJ agency (usually DEA or FBI) keeps 20%.

It is unclear how much of this is reported to the state auditor, but we do know that the Missouri state auditor in 2008-2009 reported roughly $12.7 million in seizures, $5.7 million of which received circuit court rubberstamp approval to proceed in federal court.

And in 2008-2009, deposits to the Missouri School Building Revolving Fund (the statutory vessel where seizure funds are supposed to be deposited) totaled $86,000.

What this means is that most, if not all, of Missouri counties are non-compliant with the statutory requirement that forfeiture money be deposited in a school fund. They are also non-compliant with the requirement that all forfeitures that state agencies participate in, even if the forfeiture ends up in federal hands, must be reported. As per the Revised Statutes of Missouri, 513.605:

(8) “Seizing agency”, the agency which is the primary employer of the officer or agent seizing the property, including any agency in which one or more of the employees acting on behalf of the seizing agency is employed by the state of Missouri or any political subdivision of this state;(9) “Seizure”, the point at which any law enforcement officer or agent discovers and exercises any control over property that an officer or agent has reason to believe was used or intended for use in the course of, derived from, or realized through criminal activity. Seizure includes but is not limited to preventing anyone found in possession of the property from leaving the scene of the investigation while in possession of the property;
And RsMO 513.607:
(2) Seizure may be effected by a law enforcement officer authorized to enforce the criminal laws of this state prior to the filing of the petition and without a writ of seizure if the seizure is incident to a lawful arrest, search, or inspection and the officer has probable cause to believe the property is subject to forfeiture and will be lost or destroyed if not seized. Within four days of the date of seizure, such seizure shall be reported by said officer to the prosecuting attorney of the county in which the seizure is effected or the attorney general; and if in the opinion of the prosecuting attorney or attorney general forfeiture is warranted, the prosecuting attorney or attorney general shall, within ten days after receiving notice of seizure, file a petition for forfeiture. [...]8. The prosecuting attorney or attorney general to whom the seizure is reported shall report annually by January thirty-first for the previous calendar year all seizures.10. Intentional or knowing failure to comply with any reporting requirement contained in this section shall be a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to one thousand dollars.

And as I wrote in the Columbia Tribune this September, not only is this Missouri law, but these directives are enshrined in the Missouri Constitution and a couple Missouri Supreme Court decisions:

In 1990, the Odessa School District won a landmark victory in the Missouri Supreme Court with a verdict that held the Missouri Constitution directed money seized from criminals to Missouri’s schools. The victory was short-lived. Almost immediately, Jean Paul Bradshaw, the U.S. attorney for western Missouri, contacted Missouri’s law enforcement agencies with news that they could keep the money through a federal forfeiture provision managed by the Department of Justice.

The program, called Equitable Sharing, allows state and local law enforcement agencies to take property seized in the course of an investigation to the Department of Justice for liquidation rather than to state courts. Ultimately, the Department of Justice cuts the local law enforcement agency a check for up to 80 percent of the property’s value, dodging Missouri’s requirement that the money must go to education.

In 2001, Gov. Bob Holden signed a bill aimed at reforming this system. The bill contained a number of protections, including a mandate that all forfeitures to federal agencies receive Missouri circuit court approval and that all forfeitures be attached to a felony conviction.

Nine years after these reforms, a number of problems have re-emerged. First, the transfer of forfeitures to the federal government has continued unabated as circuit court judges often rubber-stamp law enforcement requests. Second, the requirement that circuit court approval be granted is unenforceable; often, property goes to federal law enforcement agents who can execute the forfeiture directly without judicial approval. The amount of money that ends up being misappropriated this way is substantial. In 2008 and 2009, state and federal law enforcement retained well more than $50 million in direct circumvention of Missouri law at the expense of Missouri schools.

What do the feds have to say about this?

“It’s another tool in the toolbox,” says Richard Callahan, the U.S. Attorney for Eastern Missouri. “Forfeiting is a key part of the attempt to achieve justice.”

Mr. Callahan, you are a thief, operating under color of law, working for a government agency that has made theft part of its modus operandi. I urge all Americans to hold our elected officials accountable for the behavior of people like Mr. Callahan; if we do not, we have forfeited our liberty, and we have nothing left.

Facebook comments:

59 Responses to “Will the DEA shut down every major music festival in the country?”

  1. Anne Tebeau says:

    Proud of you Eapon……..don’t forget, all baseball and football stadiums are up for grabs too under this atrocity of a Law…

    • Lisa Corley Davis says:

      …and airports, bars, concert venues, heck anywhere where there are people. I hope everyone (whether a loyal Zoe patron or not) realizes the serious implications of this case. As wonderful a place as Zoe is, this effects everyone EVERYWHERE.

  2. Dana Cochran says:

    Will the sponsors and sites of gun shows be targeted? Surely, there are many kinds of potential violations that could be targeted at such events. . .

  3. Eapen says:

    Yes, absolutely.

  4. Paul says:

    So if this was 4 years in the making, does that make it Bush’s fault?

  5. SirNugget says:

    Indeed. SAVE CAMP ZOE

  6. fish says:

    What about recreational lakes owned by private companies such as Lake Norman in NC owned by Duke Power… Think they’ll take the lake from Duke Power? There’s much more illegal activity on that lake than at any music festival.

  7. Festfan says:

    why does the dea have to get into the business of people just trying to have fun in a comfortable peaceful environment, not everyone at these festivals, especially the big ones does or sells drugs necessarily.Mostly the underground festivals and raves are flooded with drugs. Nobody forces people to take drugs, and in the rules it is prohibited, its just as if you were buying drugs off the street.people know they’re taking a risk when they do these things, but not everyone does at these music festivals. SAVE THE FESTIVALS

  8. Music festivals are an echo from the 60′s counterculture and the G wants to kill it completely. It has nothing to do with law and order and everything to do with control. They want to control every aspect of our lives right down to what is acceptable recreational activities. It’s a shame that people are so scared of the government that is supposed to protect them. The cops act like fascist thugs and regular people get treated like criminals and get their property stolen. welcome to Amerika.

  9. FEDup says:

    Target Festivals?!?! What many people fail to recognize is that festivals are not necessarily about the party, Festi-go-ers attend to be with like minded individuals. Never at a festival have I seen a fight. never at a festival have I heard of people being assaulted in any way. Rarely at a festival have I heard of theft. I have never seen a person go hungry or thirsty at a festival. A gathering of people that express kindness and compassion…yes we better get rid of those! Drugs are not what bring us together, so with or without them, we will still gather.

    …Attend with an open mind and you may learn something about yourself

    • Schwagger says:

      True story- at Camp Zoe I had a tent near the main stage. One could easily see in the tent, which was passed by everyone on the way to and from the show. During the first day I threw my wallet into the tent and left the flap open. Unbeknownst to me, when I did that my wallet broke open and about $200 flew all over the inside of the tent (we live far away from Missouri). It was easily visible when I came back that night, even the streetlights illuminated all this money scattered in my tent.

      Yet, to my surprise, the $200 was there in full. Nobody stole a penny.

      Back in my hometown I was at a rock show hosted by the area bars and businesses. While in a crowd my wallet fell from my pocket. After searching for over an hour, I found it- empty. I lost twenty-five dollars.

      A place like Zoe, money is important. You use it to buy food and merchandise. But $200 wasn’t touched.
      At a concert the bars were open (with purchase of a $5 wristband), and money was useless. BUT, someone stole my a few measly bucks from my wallet.

      I don’t understand how they expect us to believe shutting these places down will keep us safe.

      • OhGod says:

        I have heard so many stories of people turning around and their shit being gone. One of my friends got his bag stolen from 6 ft from him while spinning fire! People getting stabbed, selling bunk shit, catching their face on fire while trying to blow fire with gas… hmmmm. Ever wonder why this shit happens? Couldn’t be drug use! Sober people always do that stuff! Now if we can just get people to understand that we cant change a fucking thing maybe they will stop bitching out the government with wasted breath. Be lucky they didn’t take all info from 4 years of investigation and make arrests on hundreds of thousands of people… instead they opt to take one man’s land. I just get tired of hearing the praise of a so called magic land… where we can all run around tweeked and drunk and its cool! People so high on acid that they have to be calmed down in a special area. All of your open drug use brought this on yourselves. Drrrr they’ll never send under covers into our magic happy land! What a joke. Take a look at the actions of your past and think about if you brought this on yourselves while you were selling drugs sitting next to an under cover out in front of main stage. Now make changes to how you act at the next festival. Be smarter. And remember… the government is watching… they are scared, and they will take action. YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM. They have more money and resources than us.

      • OpenUrMind says:

        i totally agree, the environment made me feel safe, and the people made it so. U wont find a place around town where u trust someone enough to just approach them and feel comfortable enough to strike up a conversation about whatever like you do at camp zoe. the welcoming air in the camp was so full of trust and family-oriented love. i only attended the last festival, spookstock, and im very sad to learn i may never go back.

    • Kayla Gether says:

      soooo ture One Love people

  10. Nathaniel says:

    Forfeiture seemed to take a bad hit a couple of decades ago when it got a bad name due to some very ugly actions. It was the talk of the town for a while, then seemed to recede into the background. Now we see it raise its ugly head again.

    Here we have Richard Callahan, the U.S. Attorney for Eastern Missouri, saying, “Forfeiting is a key part of the attempt to achieve justice.”

    Justice my brass! The drug war was never about justice. It was always about greed, especially when the forfeiture laws kicked in and law enforcement saw a funding opportunity. Sick. Very sick. Not being in the situation at Camp Zoe, I can’t say how right or wrong it, specifically, is, but it sure seems to stink!

  11. Vendatta says:

    Two words, POLICE STATE! Prepare Accordingly

  12. A. Lee says:

    Who ‘owns’ the cities? Metropolis ‘drug’ cultures are rampant. Does this mean that the DEA or other law enforcement agencies can ‘sieze cntrol & ownership’ of American cities???

  13. SuperBong69 says:

    how about an online petition??
    anyone wanna set one up and we will use the power of the internet and social networks to spread the message!!
    the internet connects us together like nothing before, let our powers combine. :)

  14. Bob E. Lee says:

    abolish this out of control department, end the war on drugs and end the police state

    small step for man a giant leap for our freedoms

  15. MojaveMike says:

    Conflict of interest. See it in private prisons too. Near me, a city will make DUI checkpoints (talk about 4th Ammendment!) just to impound vehicles from latino drivers because many of them don’t have a license (illegal aliens) or insurance. They’ll spend a couple of nights a month and come out with a couple hundred thousand. Only thing to slow them down were claims of taking advantage of latinos almost exclusively. Even though they would check all drivers equally, they had to lay off because of the disproportionate racial profile. When we see law enforcement stepping out of line as they are nowadays: detractors of law and order instead of enforcers; we need to fight it with constant litigation for every violation against our fellow citizens. And as jurors, we must not convict if we feel the law is unjust. Look up Jury Nullification. These are tools we all need to use right now!

    • token282 says:

      are you serious? those check points are a great thing. if you dont have a lisence, or insurance get off the roads. and if you dont have one because you are not legal, well then thats your fault. our government shouldnt take pity on these people because of their race. no, they are not killing people, or stealing, but driving without insurance and/or a lisence is illegal, and should be handled as so. a police force taregting people commiting illegal acts, no matter the race, creed, color, is what they get paid to do.

  16. boxcarjoe says:

    I was thinking about when this time would come as this is happening. Take back the hijacking of America. Freedom of the private treatment of ones body and mind is not a crime if the drugs work.

  17. herblover says:

    Why dont they just take over the power companies to as people use electricity to power the lights to grow their drugs. This just makes you wonder how free the U.S. really is. We are all brain washed by the media.

  18. Geeter Dan says:

    They hate us for our freedom. Terrorists?

  19. TSGordon says:

    So, why allow voting? Why allow Americans to engage in ‘freedom” of any kind?

  20. Kipper says:

    I hear there were thousands of people smoking pot at the Stop the Insanity rally in DC. Is that property up for grabs too?
    And then there was those people buying and doing crack on the street corners in L.A. and Harlem and and and….

  21. stoner dave says:

    also, every single event ive ever attended at zoe……….before i was allowed access to zoe i was givin a flyer that had a very clear set of rules to follow. Not only myself but every human being in the car and everyone else attending zoe funtions as well gets one of these. These rules are given to every patron of zoe “BEFORE” they are allowed to pay for entrance to the campatheatre…Zoe has always had a security force as well as staff who try to enforce these rules

  22. festgoer says:

    The feds are infiltrating every festival. August 2011 is going to be the 50th Philadelphia folk fest in Schwenksville Pennsylvania…will that be shut down and the land confiscated from the owner of the land who is an elderly woman? There have been checkpoints at this festival and I can see this sort of event happening. http://www.pff.org please support this organization and help prevent this from happening here

  23. Schwagger says:

    Maybe if Missouri didn’t spend all the state’s money on law enforcement outside places like these, they’d have more money for education and not need to seize the camp.

    It took them four years to realize drugs were used and sold there? Seriously, all you have to do is look at flier and you know there will be drug usage there. One of the first things that happened at Zoe was someone tried to sell me something. But in terms of criminal activity (fighting, theft, overindulgence), I see that on a daily basis downtown where all the bars are.

    The people at Zoe were all about having a good time. You could walk up to somebody and immediately make a friend. It was a beautiful experience going to Schwag, and to think that the government can steal the camp “to protect the children” makes me physically ill. Will this country ever be a democracy again? I do drugs in my house- does that mean the government can kick me out on the streets and sell my house to school board?

    It’s depressing. It’s really depressing. I always thought these people were here to protect us.

  24. SP says:

    Wanna call him and tell him what a dirty f*ck he is?


  25. Dankika says:

    maybe i am looking at this the wrong way, but if the government wants more ‘control’ why wouldn’t they want to keep drug ‘doers’ in a controlled environment? people will do drugs, regardless. why wouldn’t you want to keep them in a smaller ‘safe’ space filled with like-minded people rather than on the streets or in your suburban neighborhoods? a similar story from a not so far away iowa town:


  26. Ajai Dittmar says:

    They won’t be happy until everyone in the United States is criminalized! I seriously question the ethics of this government function!

  27. Mark Atwood says:

    It sounds to me like the local cops there have been stealing money from the education budget. Why aren’t the heads of each local law enforcement agency being removed by the legislature?

  28. susan stone says:

    All of this BS makes me proud to be an AMERICAM–NOT !!!
    someone needs to poke out 1 of ‘BIG BROTHERS’ eyes..

  29. Doug Canady says:

    As a Zoe patron for the last 4 years in question, I was always amazed that no law enforcement ever stepped up to arrest the dealers hawking their goods and stop the illegal activities. Turns out the reason the cops let it all happen without stepping in was because they wanted to steal the land, not stop the dealing. All they had to do was step in and arrest a few dealers to stop the open activities. They didn’t care about stopping the dealing. They just wanted to steal Jimmie’s land.

  30. Steve O'Neal says:

    Thinking of all of my dear friends at Zoe, and the many yet to be discovered, I remember the beautiful, living phenomenon that is our genuine friendship. A unique quality of the Zoe environment, albeit draped within our imperfect struggles to be free and human, has allowed us to truly know each other. The emotionally sterile external environment we pretend to call a civilization rarely allows such progress even in the course of decades. We are now in the midst of a developing fascist state that Russian immigrants pointedly compare with the Soviet Union. The FEMA camps, coffin inventories and a military currently amalgamating with law enforcement are being prepared to suppress a rebellion. What rebellion? We shall soon see, I’m afraid. But can love conquer the greater portion of a brainwashed people cultivated into a culture of fear? We must find this out before all our land is taken, by seizure, foreclosure or by a nation as we knew it, taxed out of existence. A crucial secret is that Zoe was not seized because of drugs any more than co-intelpro was a remedy for the Haight-Ashbury. The real fear among those in power was of a young culture becoming aware of a vile symphony of lies that had consumed their govermnment – and so it is today. Let Mena, Arkansas and the marines guarding the Afghanistan poppy fields tell us who are the quintessential drug dealers of the world. When the American middle class awakens to empty bank accounts and dumpsters filled with the last remnants of a scrapped nation headed to Chinese smelting mills, perhaps then they will understand. To the righteous and self-righteous alike, let us remind that Jesus found no acceptance in the institutions of religion, of learning or of government, but instead opened the Book of Life upon the gravel bars, where the peoples’ hearts were more truly open to receive it. And so it is likewise today, as we at Zoe prefer to consider our philosophies in the likeness of that Master, unedited, rather than under the whited sepulchres of those self-appointed institutions.
    Incali Takita Wakkan

  31. [...] can listen to the discussion here, and here is more on the Camp Zoe seizure. Share and Enjoy: states   Camp Zoe, civil asset forfeiture, Dave Roland, Don Marsh, Freedom [...]

  32. Hodad says:

    Such wonderful place is priceness. Jimmy & the Zoe family are truely that “FAMILY’ family valves, values family

  33. moon says:

    okay i hear u all out.And agree with alot of u iv been attending schwag for awhile know and i heard a duscussion from one of u the said somthing about closing camp zoe would be benifical to young adolucents nope because im 16 and schwag has really helped me find myself and who i really am the people are wonderfull the familey is always respectfull and iv never went without there i think this is all a bunch of bs really ..we need to do somthing about this and fast..

    • OpenUrMind says:

      ah so im not the only one that senses the need for immediate rebellion against all that is “right” and “good.” obama is screwin us up. can u say “brainwashing?” thats exactly what theyr trying to do to all of us. They take away our licenses, they take away our drugs, and they take our money, for what reason? all i have to say is good luck keepin this generation down.

  34. John Coyote says:

    Let’s Abolish the DEA !

  35. gimmeshelter11 says:

    the dea is bs. so is alotta thing the system does. just lay back and watch what else comes wit the future…its gona get ugly.

  36. ed says:

    so,, burning man is on government property right?
    flash mob festivals??? Why can’t we just change the name like they do all the time, can’t a land owner say we were all trespassing? He/She has the choice to have people charged. F all that, build a barricade of hippies with sling shots shooting water balloons of acid? Sounds about right to me. We have a natural right/and “right” to assemble and a “right”, not that we need it, to overthrow this government. We have what we need, i just hope they know how to exhale

    This year we are breaking out the cell phones, catch every in justice you see. We also need tracking devices to prove the dea is reselling confiscated goods.
    towards the end of one bonnarro we had a small victory. Everybody knew the nitrous was being stolen and sold over and over again, When “security” rolled up on them, EVERYBODY within earshot mobbed around it and ran them off, it was beautiful. Now, if only we could get that kind of reaction towards the DEA’s injustices. Security has become cleaner each year, and the dea has become much worse.

    side note, I once saw the sheriff of coffee county, where bonnoroo is held, sucking down a balloon. lol. I wish he had taken a minute and got some advice, he was standing up on concrete like a dumb ass. Respect to him for having a curiosity, in his position it meant alot to me. they haven’t gotten to all of them, fully.

  37. manniesbrittlemania says:

    I was very very fortunate to attend the 2010 SPOOKSTOCK as a Roadie for Lenny Minkand The Lost And Found that evening. I had been less fortunate to not been there that following morning due to having to leave with the Bass player from the band. Ihad just left the fire by the Pizza tent at the end of vendor street. Shared a bunch of brittle, song, dance and beer, this cool guy that had a cabin next to pizza place played some great tunes from FLOYD. If I had been there and not left only to miss the bust I would of deffinitely gave them a piece of my mind. All our spirits are still there JIMMY . Good luck to you PEACE LOVE AND THE PERSUITE FOR EQUAL JUSTICE FOR ALL. Again heres to all those great SPIRITS AT CAMP ZOE

  38. elyse jackson says:

    dont we have bigger problems ? freedom, peace, and love to all

  39. Strawberry says:

    We can all say we are going to take the grandfather law and do what we want on our own land

  40. Jerry says:

    we are just too uneducated to work against these coniving bastards in government..they rewrite stuff for their benefits and believe that none of us can understand the situation..People have rights. fukin corporations do not. If people would just look around, look up what is going on, get a damn clue and then stand up to these bastards, maybe even shoot a few of them in self defense…then maybe we could get this atrocity of rights stealing and so on turned in the direction it is supposed to be going..all government exist because of The People, not for a few people who think they have it all in the bag..

  41. Great article. It is quite unfortunate that over the last decade, the travel industry has had to fight terrorism, SARS, tsunamis, bird flu virus, swine flu, and the first ever true global tough economy. Through it all the industry has proven to be powerful, resilient in addition to dynamic, getting new ways to deal with adversity. There are continually fresh troubles and the possiblility to which the marketplace must all over again adapt and behave.

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