Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Buddhist Temple Left Empty After Monks Test Positive for Meth

In the northern province of Phetchabun in Thailand, four monks, including the abbot, tested positive for methamphetamine, an official told Agence France-Presse. The monks were subsequently taken to a medical facility for drug rehabilitation, according to Boonlert Thintapthai.

The raid occurs in the midst of a nationwide effort to combat drug trafficking. The police conducted urine tests on the four men on Monday, and all four failed, according to reports. The religious organization immediately expelled the monks. Officials did not reveal why the temple was the subject of the drug raid by the police.

According to Mr. Thintapthai, in an interview with AFP, the “temple is now empty of monks, and nearby villagers are concerned they cannot do any merit-making”.

Giving food to monks is an example of “merit-making,” an essential Buddhist practice where worshippers obtain a protective force through good deeds. However, Mr. Thintapthai claimed that the regional officials consulted the local monastic chief, who had promised to send some new monks to the Bung Sam Phan district temple to manage the concerns of worshippers.

Nonetheless, the positive meth tests are the latest example of Thai monks misbehaving. Phra Annipalo, a 34-year-old drug-addled monk, was apprehended earlier this month in northern Thailand after allegedly carjacking two vehicles and giving police a wild chase.

Methamphetamine has become a huge problem in Thailand in recent years, with seizures expected to reach an all-time high in 2021, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. The country is a main methamphetamine transit point. The drugs enter the country via Laos from Myanmar, the world’s largest producer of methamphetamine. Then, the pills are sold on the streets for about 50 Baht ($1.40; £1.17).

Following the murder of 37 people at a nursery by a former police officer who was fired for possessing methamphetamine, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha ordered a drug crackdown last month.

In recent months, authorities in Southeast Asia and around the world have made record meth seizures. Hong Kong reportedly made its largest-ever meth seizure last month, discovering 1.8 metric tons of liquid meth hidden in cartons of coconut water en route to Australia.