Six giant, dangerous snails confiscated at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport

Six Giant African Snails were confiscated at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, after being discovered in the suitcase of a traveler by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent. 

The snails are highly invasive, meaning they can rapidly repopulate and take over local native ecosystems. Their invasive nature is due to the fact that they feed on more than 500 plants and can lay as many as 100-400 eggs at one time. 

The organism can grow to the size of a human fist or outstretched palm, reaching up to 8 inches in length. 

(Courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

Detroit Metropolitan Airport officials said in a Friday news release that the live snails were discovered on March 9 and came from a passenger traveling from Ghana to the U.S. who planned to eat the snails. In other countries the snails are consumed, or kept as pets. 

“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,” port director Robert Larkin said in a statement. “The discovery of this highly invasive pest truly benefits the health and well-being of the American people.” 

The snails were taken and the man was released without any further action, according to Bansbach. 

Clearing an ecosystem of the snails can cost millions of dollars. In Florida, the snails have taken over the Gulf Coast three times since first being discovered in the 1960s, costing more than $24 million and years of work to get rid of them. 

The snails are illegal to have in the United States, but as in the case of Florida, can be brought over illegally as pets. In the last two years, the snails have also been confiscated from New York City, Houston, and Atlanta airports. 

Bansbach said to his knowledge the discovery of these snails at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport is not common. A few weeks ago, he added, officials confiscated another unusual item; a dolphin skull. 

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