U.S. Customs intercepts illegal Italian snails in Memphis

The snails were intercepted in Memphis.
The snails were intercepted in Memphis.(U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 5:12 PM EDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Memphis intercepted four kilos of illegal snails from Italy.

The shipment was disguised as olives, chocolate cream candies and bread. They were marked for delivery to New Jersey.

The snails were identified as Theba pisana, also known as white Italian snails or Mediterranean snails.

This species is considered a serious pest due to their ability to aggregate. They’ve been known to destroy large trees, such as citrus, and consume grain crops.

The mollusks can also spread infections when feeding on crops and infecting the grain.

The snails were destroyed under the supervision of agriculture specialists.

Officials believe the snails were going to be served at Italian restaurants.

“Our agriculture specialists are highly skilled in preventing shippers’ attempts to circumvent U.S. laws and regulations regarding agriculture importations,” said Acting Area Port Director Michael R. Johnson. “Judging from the plethora of Italian restaurants near the snail’s destination, they may have ended up on someone’s plate, but they were both a restricted organism and mis-manifested. U.S. laws need to be followed and my officers are there to vigilantly enforce them.”

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