TSA destroys musical instruments in NY, JFK

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by longfinger, Jan 1, 2014.

  1. Crazy!


    Multi-instrumentalist Boujemaa Razgui, a Canadian citizen, watched in horror as 11 of his handmade bamboo flutes were smashed by customs at New York’s JFK airport.

    Speaking with Slipped Disc, Razgui explained, “they told me they were agricultural products and they had to be destroyed. There was nothing I could do.” His baggage had been opened after a flight from Morocco.

    Razgui is a flutist and percussionist specialising in Arabic music. He has recorded with Cirque du Soleil and the early music ensemble Boston Camerata. After this incident, he is left without the tools he needs to make a living.

    For travelling musicians, flying with an instrument is an unavoidable risk. Horror stories of damaged instruments and instruments not allowed in airline cabins are regular occurrences. In Razgui’s case, it’s not the airlines to blame, but customs.


    I don't understand why they though bamboo flutes were a threat to agriculture, and even if they mistakenly thought so, why they did not simply refuse him entry to the USA and just send him and his flutes on his way out of the country?
  2. Hi.

    Must've been a horrible thing to watch, but the person responsible for it probably stares him back on a mirror.

    All he would have to had done is to get the wood treated or radiated and show the document of that.

    When an agricultural threat has been detected, the correct way is to incenerate the goods on site though, smashing them was possibly the most ignorant thing to do.

    I was partly involved on such an incident when the CEO thought that of all the people the Aussies weren't really that tight on the packing material (wood) on the agricultural machinery we shipped there.
    Without the proper paperwork, the 40ft container already sat on the guarantine zone waiting to be shipped back to Finland.
    By some small miracle on the part of the AU/NZ business partner of ours, he was able to unload the machines and to burn the untreated wood on an empty field while several officers watched that no insects flew off.

    Laws and regulations are there for a reason, even though they sometimes feel ignorant.

  3. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
  4. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
    I hope the victim is able to bring significant legal/political pressure to bear against these #*%*%*!! :mad:
  5. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
  6. Thick McRunfast

    Thick McRunfast Not just good, good enough

    Sep 30, 2012
    Portland, Oregon USA
    If it actually happened that way I'd agree. But I'm skeptical.
  7. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Well, sure. You're totally right to be sceptical. Hopefully, more details will be forthcoming about what happened. But it sounds really bad IF what's said in that article is anything like what actually happened.

    I have to say that as a foreign national who's visited the US several times, the "welcome" you receive from the immigration and customs people can be just a horrible experience on occasions. It seems to vary from place to place, too. I had a particularly bad time at JFK on one visit when I was travelling with my eighty year old father.

    Just for the sake of balance, I will acknowledge here that I have heard of equally bad experiences happening to visitors to the UK.
  8. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    TSA=thousands standing around.
  9. me too. i'm sure somehow this poor guys instruments were destroyed- which is really awful. god only knows the dollar value of them, or how difficult it would be to replace them. even with the cost aside. all of my instruments that see travel regularly would be impossible to replace at any cost... so i feel for that part of this..

    but these agents are humans. some humans can be jerks, but opening it and smashing them before asking any questions about what it is, who he is, why he has it? they surely see all kinds of musical instruments every single day..

    i dont know, sounds a bit off. if thats the case... isin't he completely in the right to fire off a lawsuit to get his instruments replaced?
  10. Stewie26

    Stewie26 Supporting Member

    No...TSA stands for: Totally Stupid Agency. At least that what a lot of airplane pilots say.
  11. Relic

    Relic Cow are you?

    Sep 12, 2006
    Robbinsville, NJ
  12. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

  13. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    The thread headline says TSA, but the story says customs.

    The destruction of musical instruments is still stupid, but customs' reasons for stupidity are not the same as TSA's would be.
  14. Garyth

    Garyth Now What ..?

    Sep 9, 2013
    Punta Gorda Florida
    Well it wouldn't be the same - they use custom stupidity and only they know how to wield it properly ... ? improperly ?
  15. 6jase5

    6jase5 Mammogram is down but I'm working manually Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2007
    San Diego/LA
    There are two sides to every story...let's give this more time and by all means nothing to do with politics. Parties change, this type of regulation evolves regardless left or right.

    I used to work with a Customs Exam Station near the port of LA/Long Beach. Our lease, our facility equipment, Customs Officers on site doing freight inspections in offices we set up for them with 300 pages of specific details (10 foot wide parking spaces, number of microwaves/bathrooms per person, etc.). We unload and did all the physical, they inspected/researched. I also was involved with airport and port activities, handling destruction and export, looking for Contraband, Intellectual Property, Country of Origin, Agriculture, you name it.

    I find it very hard to believe that they looked up the item, saw it on some supposed "SMASH IT NOW" list and did instant destruction. It never (99.9999% of the time) works that way. CBP (Customs and Border Patrol, under Homeland Security) would get USDA involved. TSA would have been out of the picture nearly immediately. Items would have been segregated in quarantine...all port entries have the capability. I've never witnessed or heard of instant destruction of a product and they found a lot of fun stuff in my time. For one, smashing it wouldn't protect against a foreign bug but would rather be done for Intellectual Property or embargo to make it unusable/unsellable to commerce. An export option is almost always on the table in that case.

    Certain bugs and molds have literally decimated the US agriculture environment so "hammer smashing" would not be used (incinerate yes). I could tell you stories of destroying 1million packets of emergency water, and getting picketed by protestors wanting it for the homeless. The trailers had been within the exclusion zone near Chernobyl was the "other" side to that story.

    Let's give this some time for facts, one being sheer stupidity on someone's part.

    Did I ever tell you about the mounted deer heads packed with cocaine, or $900K in honey jars, or engine blocks with counterfeit processors, or....
  16. mbelue


    Dec 11, 2010
  17. Handyman

    Handyman Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2007
    Austin, TX
    If it makes you feel any better, they make it every bit as unpleasant for US citizens returning from abroad. :(
  18. Unprofessional


    Mar 5, 2012
    The TSA is the textbook example of why you shouldn't legislate in the heat of the moment.
  19. placedesjardins


    May 7, 2012
    Well, don't want to sound like a jerk but bamboo is grass and can regrow quickly unlike wood. I'm sure they can be replaced. It's not like they are Stradavarius violins where the wood used took hundreds of years to grow in varying temperature changes through their lifetime. Pan flutes are dime a dozen.