NASHVILLE, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Agents armed with warrants searched the Nashville factory of Gibson Guitars as part of a crackdown on the illegal use of endangered woods, authorities said.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service agents served the warrants on the company Tuesday at its manufacturing plant for electric and acoustic guitars, The (Nashville) Tennessean reported.
Exotic hardwoods used in high-end guitars, such as Brazilian rosewood, have become a focus of strict controls because of rainforest depletion. Trading in such woods is a federal offense, the paper said.
The company said in a statement it has done nothing wrong and is "fully cooperating with agents … as it pertains to an issue with harvested wood."
Environmentalists were surprised by the search, saying Gibson is an industry leader in using only sustainable woods.
"Historically, Gibson has shown an awful lot of leadership; they are really one of the manufacturers far ahead of the field," Scott Paul, director of the forest campaign for Greenpeace, said.