Customs agents seized about 600 live cobras that were being smuggled out of Thailand and were bound for markets in Southeast Asia, officials said Tuesday.

An anonymous tip led customs agents to the illegal shipment in Prachuap Khiri Khan, a province about 240 kilometers (149 miles) southwest of Bangkok.

The cobras were hidden in a Nissan truck whose driver told investigators that he had made the run from Malaysia to Thailand several times and charged $330 per trip.

Cobras are considered an exotic food by some Asians and are used by practitioners of traditional medicine.

Some doctors prescribe cobra venom for treating blood disorders and practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine use the reptiles to treat various illnesses and as an aphrodisiac.

People in China and Indonesia, for example, often purchase cobra blood and other parts at stalls in markets. EFE