Pagoda Chief Caught With Meth Held Before Trial

A pagoda chief found in possession of nearly a kilogram of crystal methamphetamine during a raid on his room at Wat Khetiyaram in Stung Treng City was charged with drug offenses and sent to the provincial prison on Saturday, officials said on Sunday.

Mai Samoeurn was promptly arrested and defrocked on Friday after police seized the 936.7 grams of crystal meth, which he allegedly smuggled from Laos.

“The court already charged him on Sunday with drug trafficking,” said Sun Yeut, a deputy prosecutor at the Steng Treng Provincial Court.

The former monk was charged under Article 40 of the drug law, he said, which relates to storing drugs for sale and carries a prison sentence of one to five years and a fine of up to 10 million riel (about $2,500).

“We already sent him to pretrial detention at the prison,” said deputy provincial police chief Nou Huor.

Several monks have been embroiled in similar cases in recent months.

A monk was caught smoking meth at his pagoda in Banteay Meanchey province in April; police arrested four teenage monks for smoking the drug with an alleged dealer at their pagoda in Svay Rieng province in May; and two monks were recently found guilty of possessing drugs after being arrested at Angtaminh pagoda in Phnom Penh in August.

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