In Texas, there’s a humanitarian crisis at the border.
At Los Angeles International Airport, meanwhile, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection carried out a massive mollusks seizure. And at the border in Arizona, agents confiscated a pair of parrots being smuggled into the country stuffed inside a Sesame Street doll.
Authorities said Monday federal investigators at Los Angeles International Airport recently seized a suspiciously slimy package: two picnic baskets filled with 67 live, giant African snails intended for human consumption.
The July 1 discovery was called the largest seizure of mollusks at LAX as authorities confiscated snails that had arrived from Lagos, Nigeria. They were headed to San Dimas, Calif., Lee Harty of U.S. Customs and Border Protection told the Los Angeles Times. A sample was sent to a federal mollusk specialist who identified them as a prohibited species. Then the U.S. Department of Agriculture incinerated them.
Although snails may make for a tasty treat across West Africa, they’re prohibited in the United States because the critters carry parasites harmful to humans, including one that can lead to meningitis, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. They’re are also agricultural pests, Maveeda Mirza, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection program manager for agriculture, told the newspaper.
“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,” Mirza said.
And what about the birds?
Also on July 1, federal authorities stopped a couple trying to enter Port of San Luis, Ariz., on the U.S.-Mexico border with a bag of mangoes. Then they asked to X-ray the couple’s Elmo doll — and found something living inside, two little conures.
Authorities cut out the birds from the stuffed Elmo, placed them in quarantine and moved them to a Department of Agriculture holding facility, CBS5 reported. Birds entering the United States are regulated since they can carry viral and bacterial diseases.
The couple was fined $300, Phoenix NewTimes reported.