Dismissal of four monks in central Phetchabun province highlights problem of drug use in Thailand, a major transit country for meth flooding in from Myanmar.

Seizures of methamphetamine in Thailand reached an all time high in 2021, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Seizures of methamphetamine in Thailand reached an all time high in 2021, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (Getty Images)

A Buddhist temple in central Thailand has been left without any monks after all of its members failed drug tests and were dismissed, according to local officials.

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 said on Tuesday.

The monks have been sent to a health clinic to undergo drug rehabilitation, the official said.

The monks were reportedly removed from the temple, after police administered urine tests on Monday, which all four men failed. Officials did not say what had brought the temple to the attention of police.

"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 other monks will be reassigned to the temple to allow villagers to continue their religious obligations.

READ MORE: Thailand's monks battle weight problems

Clampdowns and record seizures

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.

Seizures of methamphetamine in Thailand reached an all time high last year, according to the UN. 

Overall, a record 171.5 tonnes of meth were intercepted in 2021, with more than one billion methamphetamine tablets seized by authorities.

On the street, pills sell for less than around $0.50 (20 baht).

Last month, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha ordered a clampdown on drugs, after a former police officer who had been dismissed from the force for methamphetamine possession raided a nursery and killed 37 people, mostly children.

Authorities across much of Southeast Asia have also made record meth seizures in recent years.

READ MORE: Thai PM promises stricter gun, drugs control after nursery massacre

Source: TRTWorld and agencies