BY DAVID OVALLE
Authorities are investigating a Hialeah man who allegedly smuggled illegal Giant African Snails into Florida and convinced his followers to drink their juices as part of a religious healing ritual.
State and federal authorities in January raided the home of Charles L. Stewart after learning he had a large box full of the snails -- which grow to be up to 10 inches long -- according to a search warrant filed recently in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.
The investigation is ongoing. No charges have been filed.
Stewart, 48, who court documents describe as ``El Africano'' or ``Oloye Ifatoku,'' said he practices the traditional African religion of Ifa Orisha, which is often confused with the Cuban Santería, a blend of Yoruba and Catholic practices.
``I did not invent this. It's something that is part of our religion,'' he told The Miami Herald.
Tags: religion, charles l. stewart, giant african snails, cult,
Location: Hialeah, Florida, United States (load item map)
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