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Mar 12, 2010 2:42 PM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Devotees of Florida man drank snail mucus in ritual

Devotees of a Miami man who claims to practice a traditional African religion say they were sickened when they had to ingest the mucus of a giant African snail.

Federal authorities in January raided Charles L. Stewart's home after receiving complaints. Stewart has not been criminally charged, but prosecutors and state and federal wildlife agencies are investigating.

The giant African snail is prohibited in the U.S. without special approval. Experts say it devastates ecosystems.

The snail grows up to 10 inches long, can reproduce on its own and even can even eat plaster. Stewart tells The Miami Herald he means no harm, and his religion uses the snails in healing ceremonies.

Followers said they got violently ill, losing weight and developing strange lumps in their stomachs.

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