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Gibson Facilities Raided by Law Enforcement Officials

Federal agents and local police this afternoon conducted a raid at one of the Gibson Guitar’s Nashville manufacturing facilities, seizing a number of guitars, computers, files and wood used in the manufacturer of the company’s guitars.

Nashville, TN (November 17, 2009) – Agents with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Nashville police conducted a raid at Gibson's corporate headquarters and one of its Nashville manufacturing facilities this afternoon. Various news agencies report a number of guitars, computers, files and wood used in the manufacture of the company’s guitars were seized.

According to Andrew Ames, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice, a search warrant was executed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the Department of Homeland Security. According to the Nashville Post, the raid was conducted by a combination of federal agents and local police who are investigating the company for violating the Lacey Act, an environment law that makes it illegal to import endangered species of rosewood from Madagascar. As of this posting, it is not clear which Gibson manufacturing facility was the target of the raid—either Gibson USA or Gibson Custom. Both facilities are approximately one mile from each other in a warehouse district just south of downtown Nashville.

On its website, the Nashville Post is citing “sources” that have indicated Gibson was “…involved in a scheme that shipped the wood from Madagascar to Germany and then to the United States.” The Nashville Post report also states that charges against the company have yet to be filed.

Premier Guitar obtained the following statement directly from Gibson:

“Today Gibson Guitar is fully cooperating with agents of the United States Fish & Wildlife Service as it pertains to an issue with harvested wood. Gibson is a chain of custody certified buyer who purchases wood from legal suppliers who are to follow all standards. Gibson Guitar Chairman and CEO sits on the board of the Rainforest Alliance and takes the issue of certification very seriously. The company will continue to cooperate fully and assist our federal government with all inquiries and information.”

The Tennessean is reporting that Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz is taking a temporary leave of absence from the Rainforest Alliance until the matter was resolved, ""to avoid conflict or distraction."

Additional updates will be posted on as needed.