Can promoters or land-owners of a concert festival be held liable if people are buying drugs on their grounds?
It seems so. Camp Zoe, a festival venue and campground in Missouri that hosted events such as "Schwagstock" and the "Pagan Spirit Gathering" this year, is facing land seizure and forfeiture after a four-year investigation allegedly revealed rampant drug sales and use on the property.
It was well known that State Troopers were keeping an eye on Camp Zoe from afar - more than 2,000 people were arrested at highway checkpoints outside the festival grounds since 2007. But undercover cops also infiltrated various events and 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," according to a complaint filed by the state.
It went on to say that the owner and operator of the property, Jimmy Tebeau, and other Camp Zoe staff members were "in the immediate area" when the drug deals too place and "took no immediate action to prevent the activity."
Tebeau has not been charged with a crime, but that didn't stop the DEA, the U.S. Attorney's office and the Missouri State Highway Patrol from temporarily seizing all the money in his bank account. "It is incredible what the federal government can do to people or a business based merely on allegations with no evidence whatsoever," said Tebeau's attorney in an interview with the Riverport Times.
While Camp Zoe may have been on the wilder fringe of the live circuit, this still raises questions about the vulnerability of music festivals everywhere. The Riverfront Times spoke with attorney Dave Roland from the nonprofit advocacy group Freedom Center of Missouri. He said:
"My home state is Tennessee... 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."