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.