67 Giant African Snails Seized At LAX, Thankfully Denied Entry Into U.S.
The TSA's Instagram account has proven that people like to travel with a lot of weird stuff, but this is one of the more horrifying discoveries: On Monday, airport security seized 67 giant African snails at LAX. Weirder? They were meant for human consumption.
The offending mollusks, which were headed to San Dimas, California, from Lagos, Nigeria, totaled 35 pounds and were split between two picnic baskets. Yup, picnic baskets. Think about that the next time you take a sandwich to the park on a sunny day. The 67 snails also snag the record for the largest seizure of mollusks at LAX. So, uh, there is a precedent for this?
The Los Angeles Times reported that federal inspectors had previously found one or two of the giant snails tucked away in luggage, but this was "the first time this pest has been encountered in such large quantity and as a consumption entry," Todd C. Owen, director of field operations for the customs agency, told the Times.
U.S. Customs and Borders reports that after inspection, the snails were incinerated. I'm not sure about the profit loss on giant snails, but at least whoever was trying to get them to the U.S. probably won't face criminal penalties!
"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," Maveeda Mirza, Customs and Borders program manager for agriculture, told the Associated Press .
Apparently the giant snails are fried and served as a snack, which okay, I'm all for adventurous food. I mean, I've eaten escargot. But these particular snails can live up to 10 years and grow to be 8 inches long. This is not a tiny delicacy. This is a giant, juicy snail. There is no chance of savoring the flavor without remembering exactly what you're biting into.
Just in case you're still thinking that snail could make a pretty good snack, let's run through a few more fun facts. First, they can potentially carry parasites that are harmful to humans.
Think the frying will get that out? Well, the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn't really dig them. They've been deemed a "damaging species" that eats over 500 different types of plants.
Still interested? When the snails can't quite satisfy that apparently ravenous hunger that allows them to grow so big, they have been known to strip "paint and stucco off of houses," according to the customs agency. They will STRIP YOUR HOUSE. My parents told me about eating paint chips when I was little, and this does not sound like anything that I want to ingest. Ever.
Images: Getty (3)