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A Buddhist temple in central Thailand has been left without monks after all of its holy men failed drug tests and were defrocked, a local official said Tuesday.
Four monks, including an abbot, at a temple in Phetchabun province’s Bung Sam Phan district tested positive for methamphetamine on Monday, district official Boonlert Thintapthai told AFP.
The monks have been sent to a health clinic to undergo drug rehabilitation, the official said.
“The temple is now empty of monks and nearby villagers are concerned they cannot do any merit-making,” he said. Merit-making involves worshippers donating food to monks as a good deed.
Boonlert said more monks will be sent to the temple to allow villagers to practice their religious obligations.
Thailand is a major transit country for methamphetamine flooding in from Myanmar’s troubled Shan state via Laos, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
On the street, meth pills, called Yaba, sell for less than 20 baht (around $0.50).
“Meth and particularly Yaba can be easily found in every corner of [Thailand] — supply is up everywhere, and at this point a tablet is cheaper than a beer,” UNODC’s Jeremy Douglas told Thai Inquirer.
Authorities across Southeast Asia and around the globe have made record meth seizures in recent months.
Last month, Hong Kong reportedly made its biggest ever seizure of meth, finding 1.8 metric tons of liquid meth hidden in cartons of coconut water en route for Australia.
In August, authorities found 2 tons of meth hidden in marble tiles shipped from the Middle East to Sydney in what police describe as the largest-ever seizure of the illicit drug in Australia.
Also in August, Mexican soldiers seized almost 1.5 tons of meth and 328 pounds of apparent powdered fentanyl at a checkpoint in the northern state of Sonora.
In July, more than 5,000 pounds of meth was found in a record-breaking seizure in Southern California.