Thailand seizes 1,800 monitor lizards

April 8, 2011 4:14:49 AM PDT
Authorities in Thailand have seized 1,800 monitor lizards being smuggled on pickup trucks to the capital. Customs officials say the Bengal monitor lizards were hidden in mesh bags and stashed in open containers behind boxes of fruit in three pickup trucks. They were seized Thursday at a checkpoint in southern Thailand.

Customs Department chief Prasong Poontaneat said Friday he suspects the lizards were destined to be eaten. He said their meat sells for $7.50-$15 per pound ($16-$33 per kilogram) in China, making them worth more than $60,000.

International trade in the reptiles is banned. In Thailand, illegal sale of wildlife carries a penalty of up to four years in prison and a fine of $1,300.