Anti-narcotics officers on Myanmar’s west coast arrested a Buddhist monk after they found more than 4 million methamphetamine pills in his car and in his monastery. The monk identified as Arsara stored the pills in his monastery in the town of Mungdaw near Bangladesh border.
Officer Maung Maung Yin said the monk first stopped near the town in Rakhine state with 400,000 pills in his car. Later they found the rest in his monastery. Officers also recovered a grenade and ammunition. A statement from the office of Myanmar’s leader, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi said that one million kyats ($769) in cash was also unearthed in the vehicle.
A news website created by Burmese exiles living in Thailand, The Irrawaddy reported that the monk Arsara was well known by the local community.
Kyaw Mya Win, a local police chief told the AFP they found the drugs when they searched his vehicle on 5th February.
Myanmar is a major producer of methamphetamine, opium and cannabis. It is smuggled from the northeast to neighbouring countries. It is the world’s second biggest producer of opium.
Reports said this is the first time a monk has been arrested for drug dealing in the district. The incident not only shocked the locals but also the officials.
Kyaw Mya Win said, “This is not a normal case, and when we were informed that the monk was arrested, we were all shocked.”
The director-general of the Religious Affairs Ministry, Soe Min Tun said, “It is not a very common case, but not impossible to happen. What will happen to the monk is that he will have to give up his monkhood right away and face trial as an ordinary person.”
Last year, the Myanmar police captured 21 million methamphetamine pills with a street value around $35.5 million near the border with China.
The Irrawaddy reported police in September 2016 carried out two drug raids, raking in more than 15 million amphetamine pills from the compound of a construction company. The area is famous with drug smugglers because of its porous border with Bangladesh and its hilly territory.
A UN office on Drugs and Crime report said that the two forms of methamphetamine; methamphetamine tablets and crystalline methamphetamine rule the synthetic drugs market in Southeast Asia.
The drug sold in a pill form throughout Southeast Asia and the pill form known as ‘ya ba’, a Thai name meaning ‘crazy medicine’.