Police Seize 4.6 Million Methamphetamine Pills From Monk

By Moe Myint 6 February 2017

RANGOON – The head of the Maungdaw Township police confirmed that an anti-narcotics task force confiscated more than 4.6 million methamphetamine pills from a Buddhist monk on Sunday.

At around 6 p.m., U Arsara—an abbot—and a novice monk drove U Arsara’s Toyota Kluger from Shwe Baho village in southern Maungdaw to a downtown area known by locals as Na Ta La village. They were arrested by the Mayu Operation, an anti-narcotics task force, at Bawdhikone checkpoint on the outskirts of Maungdaw.

Police said they initially discovered 400,000 meth pills and some ammunition in abbot U Arsara’s vehicle. They then searched the Shwe Baho monastery and discovered 4.6 million stimulant tablets, said Maungdaw Township police head Police Major Kyaw Mya Win.

The anti-narcotics team is currently detaining monk U Arsara and the novice in border police custody. As the Mayu Operation—formed in early February—is directly supervised by officials in Naypyidaw, Police Major Kyaw Mya Win said that local police could not provide further information.

Border guard police branch near Shwe Baho village, in southern Maungdaw Township. (Photo: Moe Myint / The Irrawaddy)

This methamphetamine seizure reportedly marks the first time in Maungdaw police records that a monk has been apprehended for drug dealing.

Police Major Kyaw Mya Win said he was “shocked” by the incident.

Maungdaw resident U Khin Maung said monk U Arsara is well known among Buddhist locals and was a former leading monk in the downtown Baho monastery in Maungdaw. But later, U Arsara moved to Shwe Baho village, and began living in his own compound.

“It causes us to lose respect from other religions, and [causes] embarrassment,” said U Khin Maung of the incident.

According to local reports, in late September 2016, Maungdaw police completed two massive drug hauls, totaling over 15 million amphetamine tablets. The pills were discovered in the compound of a construction company, hidden under brick piles and in a truck which was covered with sand. The suspects in the case have yet to be apprehended.