I guess this slipped by me at first, with all of the hurricane coverage, but… WOW!  Federal Agents raided Gibson Guitar manufacturing facilities in Nashville, and Memphis Tennessee under suspicion of Gibson importing illegal hardwoods.Federal authorities confiscated over a million dollars in wood.

This isn’t the first time, Gibson has been raided by Federal Authorities before this once in 2009… charges were never filed in that case, and it is still being haggled in the courts.

Gibson Guitar Chairman & CEO Henry Juszkiewicz believes that the recent Federal raids were illegal, and believes the wood is STOLEN.  He stood in the sun the other day, and laid out the companies position in all of this.  He had this among other things to say in a press statement:

armed marshals stormed the company’s Nashville, Tenn., and Memphis, Tenn., manufacturing facilities on August 24, and proceeded to evacuate the buildings, shut down production, order all employees to go home, and steal more than a million dollars worth of rosewood and ebony that had been legally imported from India.

Juszkiewicz said at a recent press conference in regards to the importation of the hardwoods in question,

It is not illegal, it was exported legally, endorsed by the Indian government, it was Forest Stewardship Council recognized wood,” stated Juszkiewicz concerning the stolen wood. “We’re not in the wrong. We haven’t actually been charged with any wrongdoing. And yet our entire operation has effectively been noticed to be shut down.

Every “decent” guitar manufacturer imports Rosewood and Ebony woods from India, among other countries, and other companies don’t have nearly the standards of GIBSON!

From an article on NPR.ORG, Attorney Ronald Bienstock says the Gibson raids have aroused the guitar builders he represents because the Lacey Act is retroactive. He says,

They’re worried they might be forced to prove the provenance of wood they acquired decades ago.  There hasn’t been that moment where people have quote tested the case. ‘What is compliance? What is actual compliance? How have I complied?’ We’re lacking that.”

He’s even warned his clients to be careful of traveling abroad with old guitars, because the law says owners can be asked to account for every wooden part of their guitars when re-entering the U.S. The law also covers the trade in vintage instruments.

That also means that if you try to sell a vintage guitar, especially with Rosewood or Ebony from Madagascar or Brazil… You could go to jail!

Here is video of Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar Corp. give his response to the raids in a press conference… it looks like this might be the beginning of the shutting down of one the last true American Companies… not to mention the small music shops all over the country that sell, and trade in vintage stringed instruments…

(It bothers me to think the American government could just may be shutting down one of the last true American Companies… shameful.!)