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Land Forfeited in Drug Bust Given to U.S. Forest Service

<i> From a Times Staff Writer</i>

The U.S attorney’s office in San Diego announced Wednesday that it has given 7.6 acres of land near Cleveland National Forest that was seized in a drug bust almost six years ago to the U.S. Forest Service for recreational use.

The exchange marked the first time forfeited land has been transferred to any government agency in San Diego County, said U.S. Atty. William Braniff.

The transfer was ordered after Forest Service officials participated with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department’s narcotics task force in the 1986 investigation of Sharon Van Hook, a suspected marijuana trafficker and former owner of the property known as Mt. Laguna Stables, Braniff said.

The 7.6 acres were seized by the government in July, 1986, after a federal search of the property and a residence in Valley Center turned up two kilograms of marijuana, Braniff said.

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Authorities determined that Van Hook had bought the land with money from her drug trade. Under federal law, the land could be seized by the government, Braniff said.

Van Hook pleaded guilty to three felony tax evasion counts in April, 1990, and was later sentenced to two years in custody.

The land will be given to Cleveland National Forest to “enhance the recreational uses” in the area, Braniff said.


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