By The Nation
A joint force – Chachoengsao-based soldiers, Immigration police and officials of the district and National Buddhism Office – made the arrests in a wooded area on Maha Sarakham-Chachoengsao Road in Moo 8 village, Tambon Bang Phai.
Col Surin Charoencheep had been informed of the monks staying in the forest for two months and never participating in temple rites.
They’d sometimes been seen driven into town on hired motorcycles at 4.30am and returning to their camp at 8 or 9am.
Authorities found two monks sleeping in a tent and the other three conversing noisily. They had ordination certificates but no documents to prove they were in Thailand legally.
The monks were taken to a local temple to be defrocked and charged with unlawful entry in preparation for deportation.
One of the monks said he’d invited his fellow monks to travel with him to Thailand because Thai lay people often give monks cash on their alms rounds.
He said he’d been sending Bt7,000 to Bt10,000 home every month.