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

creative commonscreative commonsHoliday 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 them, reports 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 told 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 life.”

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 states:

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 inspection.

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 propagation.

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

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  • Dweebston||

    Monday mornings: now nut-punchier than ever.

    Happy new year.

  • Jaybirdmojo||

    Has anybody checked Ebay to see if there are any recent ney additions?

  • VG Zaytsev||

  • pan fried wylie||

    FYTW.

    also, chicken roasted on bamboo skewers.

  • JW||

    What's the Latin version of 'Fuck You, That's Why?'

    We may want to consider replacing E Pluribus Unum with it.

  • GILMORE||

    patria est potentia

  • VG Zaytsev||

    García Cárcel estimates that the total number processed by the Inquisition throughout its history was approximately 150,000; applying the percentages of executions that appeared in the trials of 1560–1700—about 2%—the approximate total would be about 3,000 put to death. Nevertheless, it is likely that the toll was much higher, keeping in mind the data provided by Dedieu and García Cárcel for the tribunals of Toledo and Valencia, respectively. It is likely that between 3,000 and 5,000 were executed. (For comparative purposes, the number of people executed for "witchcraft" in Europe during about the same time span as the Inquisition is estimated to total 60,000.).[81]
  • WTF||

    I'm guessing this belongs to another thread.

  • Mongo||

    Those border pigs are unbelievably stoopid.

  • WTF||

    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 propagation.

    They were obviously working under the "FYTW" part of the regulation.

  • sarcasmic||

    "Do you know what this is?"
    "Nope."
    "Better throw it away then."

  • Sevo||

    ..."Razgui has not yet determined how he will be able to fulfill his commitments for upcoming performances."....

    I suggest he spend the time explaining to his audience exactly how stupid the government is.
    With any luck, some other part of O'care will have imploded and he'll have a lot of material to work with.

  • pan fried wylie||

    "Ladies and Gentlmen, tonight the format of my show will be a little different..."

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Of course CBP won't apologize or admit they're wrong. They've already destroyed the instruments so that's out as a remedy, leaving who knows what as a recourse. Can't take a risk that someone would be punished or authority taken away. Nothing to do but hide behind the bogus justification.

    Truly we are a nation of laws, not men.

  • Dave Krueger||

    When asked by Foreign Policy, the law enforcement agency refuses to apologize to for the mishap.

    That would be against their motto which defines the reason for all of their actions: "Because we can."

  • Finrod||

    And here I thought FYTW was their motto.

  • Dave Krueger||

    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 propagation.

    Keep in mind that these people aren't hired for their ability to think. In fact, such ability would probably disqualify them from the kind of blind mindless obedience required of federal government employees.

  • sickofgovwaste||

    I live right at the Canadian border, one night when returning to the U.S., CBP pulled me in and detained me for no apparent reason. They would not allow me to use the restroom. When asked why, I was told to "sit down right there and shut up."

    I should have pee'd on their floor. Thank god I didn't have flutes on me.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    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.

    WAS one of only...

  • pan fried wylie||

    rub it in why dontcha.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    ..."Razgui has not yet determined how he will be able to fulfill his commitments for upcoming performances."....

    I suggest the kazoo.

  • pan fried wylie||

    The real bitch will be when the USDA swat raids him for making new flutes without the proper paperwork.

  • ||

    Bizarre.

    A) Bamboo is not a native plant species in the US.

    B) Bamboo propagates like a fucking weed.

    C) Assholes sell "lucky" bamboo shoots in stupid Chinese junk stores.

    We ought to be deliberately importing bamboo pathogens to kill the shit off.

  • ||

    Forgot to mention ...

    Assholes sell "lucky" bamboo shoots, which the idiots that buy them later plant in their yard when they get too big, which then proceed to spread into a rampant bamboo jungle that harbors rats.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    then proceed to spread into a rampant bamboo jungle that harbors rats.

    Not pandas?

  • pan fried wylie||

    Could you really tell the difference?

  • GILMORE||

    "Apologies" imply mistakes were made. They never make mistakes. Buttle, Tuttle.

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