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22 snails, ‘prekese’ seized by US customs from American on arrival from Ghana

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Customs officials have confiscated a package of giant African snails in a man’s luggage at JFK Airport this week.

Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists discovered the package during a baggage examination of an American man who arrived Sunday on a flight from Ghana, a statement disclosed.

The statement further noted that the giant African snail consumes at least 500 types of plants and wreaks havoc on tropical and sub-tropical environments, officials said.

According to the Customs officials, 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. 

They are also known to cause structural damage to plaster and stucco structures. 

In addition to the invasive snails, the man’s luggage contained about 24 pounds collectively of prohibited oxtail, dried beef, turkey berry, carrot, medicinal leaves and prekese, a traditional African spice and medicinal plant product, officials said. 

The traveler declared all of the items, so he was released, a CBP spokesman said.

All of the items were seized. 

“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,” acting director of field operations for CBP’s New York field office, Marty C. Raybon said in a statement. 

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