NASHVILLE, TN --

A civil lawsuit has been filed against Gibson Guitar seeking federal government possession of more than $76,000 worth of Madagascar ebony wood seized in a November 2009 raid. No criminal charges have been filed, according to the Tennessean.

The Nashville Business Journal reports that authorities who raided Gibson Guitar last year seized ebony wood in various forms deemed illegal under the Lacey Act. In a lawsuit filed last week, the U.S. Attorney’s office for Middle Tennessee seeks forfeiture of six guitars built with the ebony, plus other pieces of the rare wood.  The civil suit cites the Lacey Act which “authorizes forfeiture of all plants” imported, exported, transported and in any way acquired in violation of federal statute protecting various natural resources.

The Tennessean reported that court records released detail how investigators traced a shipment of allegedly illegally harvested ebony bound for Gibson USA to a Madagascar man who supplied a German company that contracted with Gibson. The shipment allegedly arrived at the Port of Newark, NJ, without the required declaration. This triggered an investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, which conducted the raid.

Last month Gibson USA announced a sustainability initiative to improve sourcing of guitar wood, in part in response to the raid.


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