U.S. Customs Destroy Rare Instruments, Livelihood, Won’t Apologize

Holiday travel can be a hassle.
It can be an even bigger hassle when U.S. Customs and Border
Protection (CBP) officials destroy rare instruments on which your
livelihood depends. 

That’s what happened to
Boujemaa Razgui
, a renowned musician who was returning from
Morocco to his New York City residence in time for Christmas.
Razgui was transporting 11 rare handcrafted flutes, called neys, some of which he
manufactured in the US. Nevertheless, the CBP “identified the
instruments… as agricultural products that risked introducing
‘exotic plant pathogens’ in to the United States” and destroyed
Foreign Policy

Razgui was shocked to find his carrying case emptied.“I fly with
them in and out all the time and this is the first time there has
been a problem,” he
the Boston Globe. “They told me they were
destroyed,” but “nobody talked to me. They said I have to write a
letter to the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. This is
horrible. I don’t know what to do,” Razgui explained, “This is my

That’s no exaggeration. Razgui, who has performed with various
groups throughout the US for over a decade, is one of only 15
people in the country with this specific kind of flute. Razgui has
not yet determined how he will be able to fulfill his commitments
for upcoming performances.

When asked by Foreign Policy, the law enforcement
agency refuses to apologize to for the mishap. Officials insist
that the action was necessary, because of the potential threat that
“fresh bamboo canes” pose. The CBP’s website

In general, bamboo that is not thoroughly
dried and is therefore still capable of propagation is prohibited
entry into the United States.
Bamboo that is thoroughly dried and split or cut lengthwise
(rendering it incapable of propagation) will be inspected upon
entry and released.

Unsplit dried bamboo canes/stakes/poles also are allowed entry
into the United States after inspection: however, if the bamboo
canes/stakes/poles are intended for garden or nursery use, the
shipment must be fumigated (T404-d treatment extended to 24 hours)
upon arrival at the U.S. port of entry.

Bamboo furniture, bamboo cloth, and other manufactured products
made of bamboo do not require fumigation and will be released upon

The problem is, neys aren’t made of bamboo, and even if they
were, simply looking at them would be enough to tell that the
instruments were cut, dried, and obviously incapable of

For more head-scratching policies from agencies that operate
under the Department of Homeland Security, watch ReasonTV’s video
on 12 banned
holiday items

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/06/us-customs-destroy-rare-instruments-live

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