Search Warrant Gibson Guitars

Law Office of W.F. ''Casey'' Ebsary Jr
Search Warrant, Gibson
Search Warrant, Gibson, Gibson Guitar, Gibson Search Warrant

Gibson Guitars and The Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. § 3372(a)(2)(B)(iii)

Gibson Search Warrant? Feds with nothing better to do spent a lot of time and money drafting this Affidavit for Search Warrant. Somehow, I don’t feel any safer.

UPDATE: “Gibson, fearing a bankrupting legal battle, settled and agreed to pay a $300,000 penalty to the U.S. Government. It also agreed to make a “community service payment” of $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation — to be used on research projects or tree-conservation activities. The feds in return agreed to let Gibson resume importing wood while they sought “clarification” from India.” According to Investor’s Business Daily.

Jump to End of Article to see Previous Federal Guitar-related Prosecutions.

Gibson Search Warrant Excerpts:

“The Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. § 3372(a)(2)(B)(iii), makes it unlawful for any person to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce any plant taken, possessed, transported or sold, in violation of any limitation under any law or regulation of any State, or under any foreign law, governing the export or transshipment of plants. Section 3371 defines the term plant and plants to mean any wild member of the plant kingdom, including roots, seeds, parts, or products thereof, and including trees from either natural or planted forest stands.

8. Title 18, United States Code, Section 545, makes it unlawful for anyone to knowingly import or bring into the United States any merchandise contrary to law, or to receive, conceal, buy, sell, or in any manner facilitate the transportation, concealment, or sale of such merchandise after importation, knowing the same to have been imported or brought into the United States contrary to law.

9. Countries generally establish laws and regulations related to the harvest (logging) and export of wood, timber or plants (forest products) in order to manage natural resources and regulate the commercialization of their nation’s natural resources.

10. The international community uses an “International Tariff Code” system or ITC, also known as the “Harmonized Schedule” or HS, to simplify international trade in commodities including plants and plant products. Most relevant to this case is HS Code 4407, “Wood sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or peeled, whether or not planed, sanded, or end jointed, or a thickness exceeding 6mm.” India prohibits the export of products classified under HS Code 4407 for all plant species harvested in India, without exception.”

“14. Guitar bodies utilize veneers of various wood species. Veneers are typically large pieces of uniformly cut thin sheets of wood, defined by the harmonized tariff codes under the HS series 4408. Veneers are defined as being less than 6mm thick” 

Gibson Search Warrant Affidavit
Gibson Search Warrant Affidavit

“The plant product imported was “Ebony fingerboards for guitars: Diospyros ebenum, harvested in India”. The final consignee was declared as GIBSON GUITAR, 641 Massman Dr, TN, with Herb Jenkins listed as the point of contact.”

“34. According to Matthews, since January 2010, GIBSON CUSTOM has used only Indian rosewood. Eugene Nix initially receives and inspects all the GIBSON CUSTOM rosewood and ebony upon import. Nix then kiln dries the wood andlor conditions the rosewood and ebony to prepare it for the manufacturing process. The rosewood and ebony is then shipped to GIBSON CUSTOM from the GIBSON ELECTRIC facilities when it is ready. Gibson purchasing managers are responsible for the order placement and purchase of specific species of sawn wood from selected venders. The following GIBSON GUITAR CORPORATION employees are responsible for the sourcing and procurement of rosewood and ebony for manufacturing at the different GIBSON GUITAR CORPORATION Divisions . . . .”

“31. SA Seiler conducted an interview with GIBSON GUITAR CORPORATION employee, Eugene Nix, on November 17, 2009. Nix is the wood products engineer for GIBSON GUITAR CORPORATION and is responsible for sourcing types and species of wood for manufacturing use by GIBSON GUITAR CORPORATION. In addition, Nix is responsible for inspection of the imported wood to evaluate its condition, properties, and quality. Nix also accomplished all kiln drying for imported wood received at the GIBSON ELECTRIC manufacturing facility in Nashville, Tennessee, including rosewood and ebony. Nix shipped dried wood to other Gibson divisions when the wood was ready for further manufacturing. The kiln used for drying wood is located in the rough mill, an adjacent building to 641 Massman Drive. The rough mill is marked as building 653 on Massman Drive. Nix stated that Gibson uses only Indian ebony in Gibson products (containing ebony). Nix further stated the following: Rosewood used by Gibson is Indian rosewood, although Gibson had used Madagascar rosewood and ebony in the past. According to Nix, all ebony and rosewood was stored at Red Arrow Delivery Service upon import and delivery to Nashville until GIBSON GUITAR CORPORATION was ready to have it picked up. Gibson’s purchasing managers are responsible for actually placing orders for rosewood and ebony from suppliers and Herb Jenkins was the senior purchasing manager at GIBSON ELECTRIC. Nix confirmed he kept electronic files and email correspondence concerning the sourcing, receipt, and use of rosewood and ebony by GIBSON GUITAR CORPORATION on his computer. ”

Computers Seized

“38. Your affiant is aware that computers are used to engage in business transactions that involve the trade of wildlife and plant species. A computer may have been used to store, generate, and print documents used in furtherance of the shipments of lndian ebony and lndian rosewood, which are in violation of the laws enumerated hereinabove. For example, THEODOR NAGEL GMBH would direct their United States sales representative, Hunter Trading Corporation, to send email notification to Red Arrow Delivery Service, to authorize the release of sawn rosewood and ebony to GIBSON GUITAR CORPOPRATION upon receipt of invoice payment. In another example, LUTHIER MERCANTILE INTERNATIONAL sent an email notification to Red Arrow Delivery Service to expect arrival of a 24 pallet shipment of lndian rosewood and ebony for GIBSON GUITAR CORPORATION.”

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