Federal agents have raided Gibson Guitar Corporation in Tennessee, looking for evidence of illegally acquired wood from endangered trees being used in guitar manufacture. Three guitar production facilities located in Nashville and Memphis were subjected to the federal raids looking for endangered species of wood acquired in violation of the Lacey Act. The president of Gibson is very upset that the company has been implicated in wrongdoing with the raids by the feds, although no federal charges have yet been filed.
Gibson is a big user of ebony wood, which is considered an endangered wood species. Ironically, Gibson has long aligned itself with Greenpeace and other sometimes militant environmentalist groups, but now finds itself the subject of the federal raid looking for evidence of the company illegally using endangered wood in guitar manufacture.
The raid centers on some wood purchases from India involving ebony, which Gibson contends was a legal sale. Feds will no doubt look carefully at the evidence before deciding what legal actions to take. Gibson also was the subject of another raid in 2009, involving some ebony wood from Madagascar that was seized back then, but no charges filed. According to the head CEO of Gibson that latest sale from India was approved by the Indian government and a legal sale, although some broker did make a shipping label mistake writing up the sale.
Gibson guitars are the favorite of many popular musicians including blues legend B.B. King, Alvin Lee, formerly of Ten Years After, Angus Young of AC/DC and many others.
So far, Greenpeace seems to be giving Gibson a pass, with a spokesman claiming that they’ve done a good job operating their business legally in the past, looking out for the environment.