Live snakes and lobsters worth HK$1 million were seized on Lantau Island early yesterday from two men who were allegedly trying to smuggle the food to the mainland. Customs officers said snakes and lobsters were in high demand on the mainland because of a booming economy in coastal areas, where the men intended to ship the animals. The seizure was made shortly before 2am during an operation at Pak Mong, said custom's official Ngan Hing-cheung. 'The economy of China, especial the coastal area, has developed rapidly,' he said. 'The living standard of people there has increased continuously so their demand for these products is enormous. 'Added to this, our mainland counterparts impose strict regulation on the import of these products so smugglers try to make use of such an opportunity to make money.' Mr Ngan added that Chinese liked to eat snakes during the autumn and he expected more such seizures in the coming weeks, but he said customs officers had not spotted a sharp rise in this type of smuggling over the past few weeks. Mr Ngan said the seizure was made after about a week-long intensive investigation. Officers found the two men loading 80 cartons onto speed boats, of which 35 held lobsters and 45 contained snakes. Pak Mong is a black spot for smuggling. Customs said the goods were worth about HK$1 million. If they were successfully smuggled into the mainland, the smugglers could evade tax of up to HK$150,000. Two speedboats and two vehicles were also seized. The two men, aged 29 and 46, were arrested. They were being held for further questioning. The seizure comes less than two weeks after police impounded 23 speedboats and said smuggling in Hong Kong's western waters was likely to decrease overall. The vessels, some worth more than HK$100,000 each, were believed to be used to smuggle seafood from Tung Chung Bay, near Chek Lap Kok airport, to Shenzhen. Police sources had said the smugglers were trying to ship lobsters and oysters to restaurants in Shenzhen.