Giant African snails discovered in traveler's suitcase, seized by customs agents at Detroit Metro Airport

snails seized at Detroit Metro
Photo credit U.S. Customs and Border Protection

ROMULUS (WWJ) -- Something unusual discovered in luggage searched at Detroit Metro Airport: Half-a-dozen giant African snails.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) says agriculture specialists intercepted six live snails after they were found in the suitcase of a traveler who arrived in the U.S. from Ghana.

While officials said while the snails were intended to be eaten, they are considered a invasive species and do pose significant health risks to people and the environment.

The snails were seized for further analysis.

“Our CBP officers and agriculture specialists work diligently to target, detect, and intercept potential threats before they have a chance to do harm to U.S. interests,” said Port Director Robert Larkin, in a statement. “The discovery of this highly invasive pest truly benefits the health and well-being of the American people.”

The CBP says giant African snails can carry a parasitic nematode that can lead to meningitis in humans and due to an appetite that includes at least 500 different types of plants, along with plaster and stucco, they can cause significant damage to structures and ecosystems.

Giant African snails seized at Metro Airport
Giant African snails seized at Metro Airport. Photo credit U.S. Customs and Border Protection

They are considered a prohibited organism in the U.S., though they are popular for consumption and even kept as pets in other countries.

If you're going to be traveling internationally, it's a good idea to lread up on about current regulations before attempting to bring food items into the U.S. The CPB says this can help travelers avoid penalties, seizures, and even arrest.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection