A man was detained briefly last week after arriving at JFK Airport with luggage full of snails, dried beef, turkey berry, carrot, oxtail, medicinal leaves and prekese, a traditional African spice and medicinal plant product.
Customs officials found the items in the man’s luggage when he arrived on a flight from Ghana.
Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists were however concerned about the giant African snails found in the luggage.
They considered the snails highly invasive, consuming at least 500 types of plants, wreaking havoc on tropical and sub-tropical environments.
In a statement officials said the snails — which produce about 1,200 eggs in a single year — also pose a health risk to humans because they carry a parasitic nematode that can lead to meningitis.
“Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists are our nation’s frontline defenders against invasive plant and animal pests that threaten our agricultural resources, and they face this complex and challenging mission with extraordinary commitment and vigilance,” Marty C. Raybon, acting director of field operations for CBP’s New York field office, said in a statement.
The man’s luggage with all the items therein were seized by officials and after briefly detaining the man, he was released, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman said.