SURAT THANI — Police in Surat Thani province were goaded into raiding the community for drugs after a local abbot erected a banner complaining about rampant drug abuse in his temple.
Between Monday and Tuesday, the operation netted a dozen suspects and came in response to a scathing banner which sarcastically invited addicts to share drugs with the monks at Wat Thanon Suwan Pradit, a police commander said.
“The operation started after he put that sign up,” said Col. Chamnote Kaewkhao, commander of Kanchanadith Police Station.
The banner was hung in front of the temple on Thursday, attracting much attention from residents and the media.
“You are welcome to consume and buy drugs freely within the temple compound. You will also get a lot of blessings if you offer some to the monks and novices,” it read, along with photos of drug paraphernalia the abbot said he has found within the temple.
Abbot Phra Kru Dharma Saraphorn said it’s not his monks getting high, but rather local addicts entering temple grounds.
“We are just several kilometers away from the district office, yet they still often sneak in and do drugs in the temple,” the abbot said to reporters on Friday. “Even though we have CCTVs, and police patrol the area every hour, the drug addicts aren’t deterred at all.”
Four days after the abbot’s banner went up, police Monday raided local communities for two consecutive days and searched for evidence of drug use. The operation ended this morning, said police commander Chamnote.
Police search for evidence of drug use Tuesday near Wat Thanon Suwan Pradit in Surat Thani province.
He said 12 suspects have been arrested in the two-day raid: nine for drug use and three on firearms charges. He also said the temple and its vicinity have long been known to police as a hotspot for narcotics.
“The raid took place after the banner was erected, but in fact we have been strict in arresting these young gangsters,” Chamnote told Khaosod English. “Just last year, we arrested more than 20 of them.”
Chamnote also said police are planning to conduct random urine tests on monks and novices at Thanon Suwan Pradit Temple. “The temple itself is also our target. Sometimes, monks and novices themselves do drugs. There’s been a lot of news about that,” the officer said.