Gibson Guitars and the DOJ: The Investigation Is Ongoing

Posted: Feb 23, 2012 7:43 PM

Last August, in a strange fit of regulatory scrupulousness (as Katie pointed out at the time, they didn't seem to be nearly as fastidious when funneling thousands of illegal guns to Mexican drug cartels), the Department of Justice swooped into Gibson Guitar factories in Memphis and Nashville, interrupting productivity with the claim that the musical instrument manufacturer might be using certain "illegal" imported woods. Six months later, however, the DOJ still hasn't filed charges -- surprise, surprise. Thanks to for following up with this shining example of bureaucratic incompetence and inefficiency:

"They...come in with weapons, they seized a half-million dollars worth of property, they shut our factory down, and they have not charged us with anything," says Gibson Guitars CEO Henry Juszkiewicz, referring to the August 2011 raid on his Nashville and Memphis factories by agents from the Departments of Homeland Security and Fish & Wildlife.

The feds raided Gibson for using an inappropriate tariff code on wood from India, which is a violation of the anti-trafficking statute known as The Lacey Act. At issue is not whether the wood in question was endangered, but whether the wood was the correct level of thickness and finish before being exported from India. "India is wanting to ensure that raw wood is not exported without some labor content from India," says Juskiewicz.