The Fed’s WTF? Raid on Gibson Guitars

Federal authorities entered the warehouse brandishing automatic weapons. Employees were separated and interrogated. The Fed seized over half a million dollars of product.

What was the Obama Administration after? Weapons grade plutonium? Heroin? No…something much more sinister.

Guitar fingerboards.

In apparent effort to lose the musician vote, the Obama Administration has launched not one but TWO Kafkaesque raids on one of America’s iconic brands – Gibson guitars, makers of such classic instruments as the Les Paul, SG, ES-335 and the brand new Firebird X.

Listen to my exclusive interview with Gibson CEO Henry E. Juszkiewicz

Here’s Gibson’s official press release…after the jump.

The Justice department bullies Gibson without filing charges

The Federal Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. has suggested that the use of wood from India that is not finished by Indian workers is illegal, not because of U.S. law, but because it is the Justice Department’s interpretation of a law in India. (If the same wood from the same tree was finished by Indian workers, the material would be legal.) This action was taken without the support and consent of the government in India.

On August 24, 2011, around 8:45 a.m. CDT, agents for the federal government executed four search warrants on Gibson’s facilities in Nashville and Memphis and seized several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. Gibson had to cease its manufacturing operations and send workers home for the day, while armed agents executed the search warrants. Gibson has fully cooperated with the execution of the search warrants.

• Raid shut down Gibson factories and cost company money
This is the second time that federal agents have raided Gibson facilities and disrupted production – this time causing lost productivity and sales.

• Wood seized was Forest Stewardship Council Controlled
The wood the Government seized on August 24 is from a Forest Stewardship Council certified supplier and is FSC Controlled, meaning that the wood complies with the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council, which is an industry-recognized and independent, not-for-profit organization established to promote responsible management of the world’s forests. FSC Controlled Wood standards require, among other things, that the wood not be illegally harvested and not be harvested in violation of traditional and civil rights. See for more information. Gibson has a long history of supporting sustainable and responsible sources of wood and has worked diligently with entities such as the Rainforest Alliance and Greenpeace to secure FSC certified supplies. The wood seized on August 24 satisfied FSC standards.

• Nearly two years later, no charges have been filed
In 2009, more than a dozen agents with automatic weapons invaded the Gibson factory in Nashville. The Government seized guitars and a substantial amount of ebony fingerboard blanks from Madagascar. To date, 1 year and 9 months later, criminal charges have NOT been filed, yet the Government still holds Gibson’s property. Gibson has obtained sworn statements and documents from the Madagascar government and these materials, which have been filed in federal court, show that the wood seized in 2009 was legally exported under Madagascar law and that no law has been violated. Gibson is attempting to have its property returned in a civil proceeding that is pending in federal court.

The Justice Department has asked the judge to stop the court case indefinitely.

• Information sought in raid was already made available
Since 2009, Gibson has fully cooperated with the Government’s investigation of wood and has provided substantial documentation regarding Gibson’s wood-buying activities over the years. Yet, the Federal Government raided Gibson’s facilities on August 24, 2011, without warning or communication of any kind. Had the Government simply communicated with Gibson, Gibson would have cooperated without having to stop its production and send workers home.

• Not about illegal logging, not about conservation, not about the environment
The U.S. Lacey Act does not directly address conservation issues but is about obeying all laws of the countries from which wood products are procured. This law reads that you are guilty if you did not observe a law even though you had no knowledge of that law in a foreign country. The U.S. Lacey Act is only applicable when a foreign law has been violated.

• Gibson is innocent and will fight to protect its rights
Gibson has complied with foreign laws and believes it is innocent of ANY wrong doing. We will fight aggressively to prove our innocence.


  1. Ok to all musicians don’t vote Obama back in, none of this ever happened under Bush!
    None of this happened under Clinton, get Obama out and its not because of anything other than the simple fact that he is pure EVIL!!!

  2. Great job with the interview.

  3. I really don’t see how this can be a surprise to anyone. If you’re surprised, you haven’t been doing your homework on Obama and his cronies. And where’s the lamestream media on this story. They’re in Obama’s pocket and stories like this would hurt him if widely reported…so they don’t. Disgusting.

  4. Question I have is, where was Customs and Border Agents when the wood “cleared” customs? The wood should have not been allowed into the country if it violated the Lacey Act.

  5. Quit whining. Businesses who give $$ to the #GOP to wreck America should see to it they don’t break any laws. You teabaggers have this overwhelming sense of entitlement that’s quite annoying.

  6. OK. This reporter mentions the Obama Administration as if everything that the DOJ does comes from a mandate from the President. Wrong. They still act independently and if the first raid was November of 2009 you can bet that the investigation started during the Bush administration. That doesn’t mean that ‘W’ spearheaded or was even aware of this investigations?
    That being said leave it to the idiot trolls to turn this into another platform to bash the latest President. How do you folks feel about the administration failing to bring top justice members of a prior administration that illegally listened in to your phone calls or read your e-mails? You probably think he’s being ‘prudent’ or ‘intelligent’ in that matter. Because your blinded by your unfounded hatred.
    Gibson, without any doubt from what I’ve read from several stories, [Sorry Richard F. but are you dumb? A shut-in? This story has been everywhere] is being unfairly targeted. Juskiewicz stepped down from a position on the Rainforest Alliance simply because of the ‘look’ of impropriety would hurt the Alliance’s efforts. These folks at Gibson have been targeted and while I believe there are bigger problems facing this country the DOJ has decided to waste the public trust and funds by terrorizing A company that makes instruments and casual marijuana smokers in CA. And if you think that it is the President’s fault then I highly recommend that you research folks like Janet Reno [criminal, murderer], Mukasey, Ashcroft, Edwin Meese [ye gods what a magician at bending the laws if not out and out breaking them] just to name a few.

    So, stop your partisan bitching and start doing something constructive.



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