Borders

Customs Destroy Musician's Rare Flutes, Likely Mistaking Them For Bamboo Cane

Told him they were an "ecological threat," but not until he discovered them missing at his final destination and was told by his airline to call Customs

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Boujemaa Razgui, a famed Moroccan flutist who regularly performs in Boston, was passing through New York's John F. Kennedy airport on his way elsewhere packing eleven of his handmade Berber flutes he uses to perform. Mistaking them for bamboo, US Customs destroyed them. 

Razgui's flutes were in his luggage, which was taken out of his sight while he was transferring flights. He continued on his way to Boston from New York, and did not discover his flutes missing until he went home. When he called his airline, he was told to speak to Customs, who matter-of-factly notified him that all his flutes – which he was bringing to Boston to perform with – were destroyed. At no point during his time in New York was Razgui asked about the flutes or notified that they might be problematic.