Live giant African snails seized at Los Angeles airport
Customs agents have seized 67 live giant African snails at Los Angeles International Airport.
The snails, which are prohibited in the US, were found by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspectors.
They arrived from Nigeria and were intended for a person in California, said Lee Harty, a spokeswoman for the customs agency.
The mollusks are among the largest land snails in the world and can grow up to 8 inches long, said officials.
The US Department of Agriculture put the snails in an incinerator after they were inspected, said Lee Harty, because they can carry parasites that are harmful to humans, including one that can lead to meningitis.
They are also potentially damaging to nature, 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,” said Maveeda Mirza, who added that investigations were continuing into why one person would want so many.
“We’re investigating what happened, but it doesn’t seem like there was smuggling involved,” she said.
This is the first time that they have confiscated such a large quantity, Maveeda Mirza added, although there have been cases of much smaller numbers being found to be accidentally in people’s luggage.