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Giant African snails seized at Los Angeles airport

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 03:30 p.m. HST, Jul 14, 2014

LOS ANGELES >> Inspectors at Los Angeles International Airport seized an unusually slimy package -- 67 live giant African snails that are a popular delicacy across West Africa.

The snails -- which are prohibited in the U.S. -- arrived from Nigeria and were being sent to a person in San Dimas, said Lee Harty, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Customs and Border protection.

The snails were confiscated July 1 and a sample was sent the next day to a federal mollusk specialist in Washington, D.C., who identified them as a prohibited species, Harty said.

The mollusks are among the largest land snails in the world and can grow to be up to 8 inches long. They are native to Africa and can live for up to 10 years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture incinerated the snails after they were inspected, Harty said. The animals are prohibited in the U.S. because they can carry parasites that are harmful to humans, including one that can lead to meningitis.

The snails are also agricultural pests, said Maveeda Mirza, the CBP program manager for agriculture.

"These snails are seriously harmful to local plants because they will eat any kind of crop they can get to," Mirza said.

The person the snails were destined for is not expected to face any penalties, Mirza said. She said authorities are investigating why a single person would want so many snails.

"We're investigating what happened, but it doesn't seem like there was smuggling involved. When someone doesn't know a commodity is prohibited under USDA regulations there is usually no punishment," she said.

Although the agency has found one or two snails that may have accidentally gotten into a traveler's luggage in Los Angeles, this is the first time that they have confiscated the snails in such a large quantity, Mirza said.

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808ikea wrote:
Man that is some huge escargot.
on July 14,2014 | 04:32PM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
No fine?
on July 14,2014 | 04:38PM
iwanaknow wrote:
This was meant to be a terrorist attack?..........sounds like a book or movie in the making?.............all I want is 1% of the profit.
on July 14,2014 | 04:46PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
See not only Hawaii's Law Enforcement gives second and third chances. Maybe it was a terrorist attack.
on July 14,2014 | 05:16PM
rayhawaii wrote:
So after they cooked them I hope they ate them instead of them going to waste.
on July 14,2014 | 07:46PM
atilter wrote:
does the heat application eliminate the possibility of contracting the meningitis ? if it does, it's time to seriously rethink the escargot aspect as a business.
on July 15,2014 | 05:48AM
SueH wrote:
"The person the snails were destined for is not expected to face any penalties, Mirza said....... When someone doesn't know a commodity is prohibited under USDA regulations there is usually no punishment, she said". And Mirza is a spineless snail !!! Whatever happened to "ignorance of the law is no excuse??? Book'em, Danno!!
on July 14,2014 | 08:18PM
sailfish1 wrote:
Seeing how snails are hard to eradicate, they should farm these snails and feed them to the starving people in Africa.
on July 14,2014 | 09:06PM
Publicbraddah wrote:
Supremo escargot!
on July 15,2014 | 05:38AM
manakuke wrote:
Rat Lungworm ring any bells? Known mollusk vector.
on July 15,2014 | 05:56AM
livinginhawaii wrote:
So if these things are prohibited in the US why isn't the government doing anything about them in Hawaii. Last I checked they were in everyone's back yard...
on July 15,2014 | 07:26AM
Jerry_D wrote:
Really? I'm born and raised here (48 years) and have NEVER seen a snail that size in my entire life. Seen foot-long centipedes in Manoa Valley....but our snails grow to only about three inches, max.
on July 15,2014 | 09:41AM
livinginhawaii wrote:
Maybe not in everyone's back yard but definitely from Kahala to Hawaii Kai. African snails have been here at least since the 50's..
on July 15,2014 | 12:25PM
HanabataDays wrote:
Yep, I remember them from then and I think that's when they arrived. I've never seen one with an eight-inch shell but I've seen a few fives over the years. No lunkers that size lately.
on July 15,2014 | 03:43PM
Jerry_D wrote:
"...the agency has found one or two snails that may have accidentally gotten into a traveler's luggage in Los Angeles..." Hmmmmm. How does a snail THAT size "accidentally" get into one's luggage?
on July 15,2014 | 09:09AM
hawaiifisherman wrote:
They can go places you'd never expect! A friend of mine found one in a laulau once.
on July 15,2014 | 05:58PM
lwandcah wrote:
What is the difference between these snails and the ones we have here that we always called African snails? I thought the ones here were poisonous.
on July 15,2014 | 12:10PM
hawaiifisherman wrote:
They are the same kind of snail. They're not poisonous but you have to cook them really well if you're eating them, because they carry parasites.
on July 15,2014 | 05:59PM
mille1dog wrote:
I have a smaller version of these in my yard from time to time and we've always called them African snails ever since I can remember. They are gross!
on July 15,2014 | 02:16PM
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