The government says that Gibson is in violation of the Lacey Act which bans the importation of goods that violate the laws of the country a good is “created in.” In India apparently the exportation of unfinished guitar parts is illegal.
Thus the unfinished wood Gibson imported to the States is in violation of US regs (According to the DOJ.) It seems that Gibson would prefer to do the manufacturing of guitars in the United States, employing American workers, instead of outsourcing it to the subcontinent. But hey, they are in violation, and jobs shmobs, rules are rules.
The rule of law is a good thing of course, but it is not altogether clear that Gibson violated the law. In fact the harassment of the company at the hands of the Department of Justice is likely the real crime here.
Interestingly Martin Guitars, one of Gibson’s biggest competitors reportedly uses Indian rosewood in the same way as Gibson. Thing is, the CEO of Martin gave over $30,000 to the Democratic National Committee.
Also important here—Gibson is a non-union shop.