PHETCHABUN, THAILAND — A small Buddhist temple in Northern Thailand was left empty as all four monks at the temple were tested positive for methamphetamine.
According to Bangkok Post, local police raided a temple in Bung Sam Phan district on 28 November.
All the monks in the temple, including the abbot, were given urine tests, and all were positive for consuming the drug commonly known as meth.
The abbot had served as a monk at the temple for 10 years. The monks were forced to leave the temple and enrolled in rehabilitation on 30 November.
The scandal shocked the local folks as they relied on the monks for religious functions.
Buddhist monks are often honoured and serve as role models in the community. Believers would also seek their advice either on religious or daily matters.
Another Thai media Thairath reported that more than 15 police officers had raided the nearby area to search for drug addicts in public areas, including schools, factories and temples.
At the same time, the villagers were worried that the temple would be abandoned and pointed out that someone had to be there to take care of the temple’s property and the ten dogs and cats living in it.
The District officials had sought help to assign new monks to manage the temple.
Thai Police Beef Up Drug Enforcement
Thai police had since beefed up drug enforcement activities around the country, following the tragedy at a daycare centre in Northeast Thailand on 6 October, with 36 deaths.
The gunman, a former police officer – who killed 38, including his wife and son –was said to be involved in drug addiction with methamphetamine. However, the autopsy showed no traces of drugs in him, meaning he had not consumed drugs for at least 72 hours.
According to Bangkok Post, during the six months from the end of 2021 to the beginning of 2022, Thai authorities seized 260 million drugs and nearly 2.4 billion baht worth of assets from drug suspects.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has warned that Thailand is a major transit country for meth flooding from Myanmar’s troubled Shan state via Laos. With less than 20 baht (around $0.50), drug addicts might able to buy a meth tablet in the common market.
“Meth Pill Cheaper Than A Beer”
Jeremy Douglas, the regional representative of UNODC, earlier told the Thai Inquirer that meth and particularly Yaba (a mix of meth and caffeine), can be easily found in every corner of Thailand: “supply is up everywhere, and at this point, a tablet is cheaper than a beer.”
Those who are found guilty of serious drug offences, such as import, export, manufacture, distribution, or possession of large quantities of drugs in Category I, may have to serve up to 15 years sentence and pay a fine of 1.5 million baht.
Thai authorities had reformed the drug law to provide second chances, particularly to small-scale offenders, by emphasizing more on treatments rather than punitive approaches.
However, severe punishments are still in place to eradicate organized drug crimes, and a life sentence or death penalty is still a possible ruling for an individual commanding a drug network.