Musician's bamboo flutes destroyed at U.S. customs

:eek: This makes no sense. I can understand not allowing the flutes into the US. But why destroy them? What the Hell? Put them in quarantine and give the guy a chance to retrieve them.

They clearly made an error by classifying the flutes as agricultural products.

But beyond that, that’s what they do with unauthorized agricultural products. If something isn’t allowed in the US, the owner can’t legally retrieve it anyway. Unless the owner is taking it back out of the country - but you can’t expect Customs to store all the fruits and vegetables they seize, and let the owner claim it when they leave the country.

Also, many of the banned items are banned because they can carry pathogens or pests. Just storing it in the US carries some risk.

I would demand the broken pieces.

Otherwise I’m thinking the flutes were flat out stolen.

More likely ashes.

I can’t understand not allowing the flutes into the U.S. If bamboo flutes are agricultural products, so is anything made of wood or wool or cotton. That sweater you bought in Scotland - incinerated. That tiki carving from Bali - gone.

I doubt they broke them, they were probably burned or otherwise completely destroyed. The object was to remove potentially dangerous bugs, not stop them from being used as flutes.

And I doubt that a sensible person labeled them as agricultural products.

I think it’s highly likely they were stolen and then an excuse was made. A rather poor excuse.

I read in another article that the flutes were in the same bag as other dried reeds that he was going to turn into flutes. So they grabbed those, along with the flutes and destroyed them all. Looking at this image, it would be pretty easy to see that in a baf and think it was a piece of bamboo and not a musical instrument.

Government drones being thieves or stupid?

I am shocked, shocked I say. :rolleyes:

I think its far more likely that whomever confiscated them was not a sensible person, but a fairly new customs agent acting with more vigor than understanding. Bamboo flutes do not move on the black market.

I dunno - I remember UK comedian Bill Bailey saying he had a kazoo confiscated by Australian customs on a tour because it contained something organic inside.

Hey OP, why not quote the section of the article that explains exactly what happened:

So there was an agricultural product in the same container, so they threw all the bamboo out. A little heavy handed, but not quite the outrage he’s claiming.

And if those flutes were his livelihood, why didn’t he claim the baggage at JFK? Every time I’ve flown internationally, you claim your bags at your port of entry, go through customs, then recheck them on your connecting flight.

Could this simply be a publicity stunt?

I dunno about you guys, but I’m going to miss having ash trees in North America. Black walnuts too. I’m too young to remember American elms and chestnuts, but I’m sure the place would be nicer with them than without.

I don’t know what pests that bamboo might be carrying, and that’s the issue. Probably there’s nothing harmful in there. Most likely there’s nothing more than a minor pest. But “most likely” is not terribly good odds when the potential downside is the devastation of the environment and economy while the upside is it’s easier to bring flutes into the country.

I understand the guy’s complaint, because customs regulations are a huge pain in the ass that don’t make a lot of sense at first glance and they go along with TSA regulations that don’t make sense under scrutiny. Still, the regulations are there for a reason, and I’m sure there are ways he could get his bamboo reclassified, maybe by having them boiled or something to kill any potential pests.

If the flutes really were the be-all and end-all of his life, why didn’t he have them with him in a carry-on?

The TSA’s websitesays you may carry one musical instrument in addition to one carry-on and one personal item through the screening checkpoint, but I believe they’re referring to large instruments in their own case such as a trumpet or violin, rather than some flutes that probably could be rolled up in a towel.

This NPR story says that Customs is claiming all they saw (and destroyed) was the fresh bamboo. They say the separate case containing the flutes which Razgui said was placed on top of the fresh bamboo was missing. Customs only got involved in the first place because the luggage was unclaimed and had been left at the airport. Razgui said he waited at the carousel but never saw his bag come through. The airline told him to go home and they’d send him the bag when they found it. Then when it finally arrived at Razgui’s house, the flutes and bamboo was missing.

Perhaps the flutes were stolen? Perhaps that’s why the luggage was late getting to the carousel? Or perhaps it’s an insurance scam - why would Razgui check all 13 of his priceless, irreplaceable, instruments? Or perhaps Customs is ass-covering? It wouldn’t be the first time, obviously. Hopefully, something will turn up.

Is that Adam Sandler playing the flute?

This may be a cheap shot, but why is this guy protesting to a Canadian news source if he lives in the U.S. and has a dispute with a U.S. agency?

Merneith, that does sound like there may have been an “airside” theft of the instruments, which would explain why the luggage was left aside in the handling area without delivering it to the pick-up carousel and Customs then handled it as “unclaimed”.

But yes: precious valuables? Carry-on; special-handling request and insurance; split packing between different members of the party if possible; courier service (DHL, FedEx).

But who is going to steal a bunch of bamboo flutes? They’re obviously valuable to the owner, but do they have any actual monetary value? Looking at the picture of him playing one, it looks more like a kiddy toy.