Gibson Guitars Caught Smuggling

Gibson Guitars Caught Smuggling

Gibson Guitars agreed to pay penalties totaling over $$600,000 for smuggling exotic endangered wood into the United States in violation of the century-old Lacey Act. The Act was amended in 2008 to ban importation of illegally harvested hardwoods like Madagascar ebony. Gibson builds many well-known guitar models including the ES-355 (B.B. King and Chuck Berry play it) and the Les Paul, and many of these guitars have ebony fretboards. Madagascar has forbidden logging of its slow-growing ebony since 2006, meaning US importation from that date forward was illegal.

In order to avoid criminal prosecution, Gibson acknowledged that it imported exotic wood in violation of environmental laws, paid the Justice Department $300,000 in penalties, forfeited claims to over $250,000 worth of wood seized by the Feds, and contributed $50,000 to a foundation to promote the conservation of protected tree species.

At least Gibson didn’t get caught smuggling illegal weapons into the country. Blackwater did that.


“Gibson Guitar Settles Claim Over Imported Ebony,” James C. McKinley, Jr., New York Tmes

“Gibson Guitar Corporation admits to importing endangered wood,” Erik Schelzig, AP via Christian Science Monitor

“Gibson Guitar admits to illegally importing protected hardwoods from Madagascar, India,” Stacey Leasca, GlobalPost

“Gibson Guitar settles federal environmental case,” Kevin G. Hall, NY Daily News

“Gibson Guitar agrees to penalties in illegal wood import case,” Neela Banerjee, Los Angeles Times


Short Link:

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

The Gibson logo is a registered tradmark of the Gibson Guitar Corporation, used here under the parody clause of the Fair Use Doctrine.

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One Response to “Gibson Guitars Caught Smuggling”

  1. Mike Licht Says:


    “A Closer Look at Gibson Guitar’s Legal Troubles,” Andrew C. Revkin, New York Times blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: