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Trail of slime leads customs officials to stash of almost 100 giant snails

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Giant snail triggers quarantine in Florida
Rediscovery of giant African land snail prompts quarantine in Florida's Pasco County 00:50

German customs officials say a trail of slime led them to a stash of almost 100 giant African land snails and other items hidden inside bags at Duesseldorf Airport this month.

In a statement Friday, authorities said officials stumbled over one of the snails on a baggage truck and initially thought it was a toy until it started moving. By following the trail left by the 8-inch snail, they found a bag with a hole, with another snail already peeping out of it — possibly preparing a dash for freedom.

In total, officials found six bags containing 93 giant snails, 62 pounds of fish and smoked meat, and a suitcase full of rotting meat. All had been imported from Nigeria and were destined for an African goods store in western Germany.

The snails were handed to an animal rescue service in Duesseldorf and the meat was destroyed, customs officials said.

"Never in the history of the Duesseldorf customs office has a trail of slime led us to smuggled goods," said its spokesman Michael Walk.

In July, Florida officials enacted a quarantine order for one county when the invasive snail species reappeared in the state. The Florida agriculture department called the giant African snail "one of the most damaging mollusk subtypes in the world." Fully eradicating a population of the snails can take years. 

Florida officials have been using specially trained dogs to sniff out the invasive species.

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