DOJ raids Gibson Guitar in Tennessee

Department may charge company with trafficking illegally obtained wood

The Department of Justice (DOJ) raided three of Gibson Guitar Corp.’s factories in Tennessee last week in what appears to be preparation for charging the company with illegally trafficking endangered wood from Madagascar.

However, Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz says government officials haven’t yet told him exactly how the company is breaking the law.

"We're in this really incredible situation,” Juszkiewicz said in a statement to the press last week. “We have been implicated in wrongdoing and we haven't been charged with anything. Our business has been injured to millions of dollars. And we don't even have a court we can go to and say, 'Look, here's our position.'"

According to Juszkiewicz, the federal marshals who raided the facilities were armed, evacuated the factories, stopped production, sent Gibson employees home and confiscated wood.

In 2009, agents raided one of Gibson’s facilities claiming the company violated the Lacey Act—an endangered species law amended in 2008 to include plants.

According to a motion the agency filed in June, the DOJ is asserting that Gibson’s Madagascar wood is contraband. Gibson maintains it obtained the wood legally.

Read more about this story or listen to the report on NPR.

Contributing Author

Cathleen Flahardy

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