Invasive giant African snails found in luggage at JFK Airport: Officials

QUEENS, New York -- They're slow, slimy and a menace to society.

Such are the giant African snails discovered during a baggage examination at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City on Sunday.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists caught 22 of the highly invasive, slimy critters after checking a U.S. man, who arrived on a flight from Ghana.

Additionally, specialists found prohibited ox tail, dried beef, turkey berry, carrot, medicinal leaves and prekese, a traditional African spice and medicinal plant product.

"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," said Marty Raybon, Acting Director of Field Operations for CBP's New York Field Office.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the giant African snail is one of the most damaging of its kind in the world.

The critter consumes at least 500 types of plants and can cause extensive damage to tropical and sub-tropical environments.

It also causes structural damage to plaster and stucco.

To make matters worse, the snails pose a serious health risk to humans, because it carries a parasitic nematode that can cause meningitis.

Giant African snails reproduce quickly, producing 1,200 eggs in a single year.
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