At approximately 8:45 a.m. on August 24, federal agents raided Gibson Guitar Corporation facilities in Nashville and Memphis, making off with an estimated $1 million worth of Gibson property. Gibson’s alleged crime? Using imported wood from endangered trees. At least that’s what the company assumes the feds have in mind. Gibson hasn’t actually been notified of any charges against the company. In fact, according to a Gibson press release, they still haven’t been told on what charges “more than a dozen agents with automatic weapons” raided their factory and stole their property in November 2009. They’re being forced to sue in federal court to get their property back, and even there the government is stalling, having requested an indefinite stay of the case.
Both raids appear to stem from allegations that Gibson imported wood from foreign countries in violation of the Lacey Act. Originally enacted to prevent trafficking in endangered species, the act was amended in 2008 to include plants. According to the Rainforest Alliance:
the law makes it illegal to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce any plant, with some limited exceptions, taken or traded in violation of the laws of the U.S., a U.S. State, or relevant foreign law. The U.S. government can use this law to impose significant penalties on individuals and companies who are found guilty of such acts.
Personal Thoughts: I don’t think it’s fair because the Gibson guitar company has been around for years making guitars. In recent reports I read that they are fining people for owning them. Gibson make good quality guitars and they are very expensive. So, for the government to just come and take them after people paid for them or even had them for years isn’t fair. The banned is going to have an effect on a lot professional musicians. I understand trying to save the environment, but at least be fair about it.