There have been many allegations and rumors in news reports about an investigation that involves the Gibson Guitar Corporation. While we can’t comment on the specifics of this or any ongoing investigation, we want to correct misrepresentations that have been reported in the media.
First, every law enforcement investigation undertaken by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is initiated and overseen by law enforcement professionals, following all legal procedures. Our law enforcement efforts focus on illegal activities that represent a threat to wildlife and plant resources.
A number of conservation laws guide our work. One of these laws is called the Lacey Act. The Act was first passed in 1900 and has been amended several times since, most recently by a bipartisan Congress in 2008. The Lacey Act is a key tool in combating organized illegal trafficking in wildlife, fish, and plants and plant products – including some commonly found in consumer products, like musical instruments.
The Lacey Act is one of several laws and international treaties that aim to protect animal and plant species from extinction. Specifically, the bipartisan amendments to the Lacey Act in 2008 aimed in part to reduce illegal logging around the world, help the U.S. and other nations manage their own natural resources responsibly, and protect U.S. timber producers from the importation of illegally harvested and smuggled foreign logs.
Under the Lacey Act, we focus our law enforcement where it counts: Principally, on those who knowingly transact in larger volumes of illegal products. People who, despite exercising due care as consumers, unknowingly possess a consumer product, like a musical instrument or other object containing wood that may have been illegally obtained do not have criminal exposure.
To be clear: individual consumers and musicians are not the focus of any U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement investigations pertaining to the Lacey Act, and have no need for concern about confiscation of their instruments by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.