US concerned Mozambique becoming drug hub

The United States is concerned that Mozambique could become a narco-state because of close ties between drug smugglers and the southeastern African nation's government, according to U.S. Embassy cables released by WikiLeaks.

The four cables released this week cite unnamed officials from law enforcement, the ruling FRELIMO party and business figures, as well as local media reports. The cables say cocaine, heroin and other drugs come in from South America and Asia, and are then flow to Europe or sent overland to neighboring South Africa for sale.

One cable called for an international effort to strengthen the "political will" of Mozambique's government and halt the drug flow. The document concluded that "Mozambique most certainly is not yet a thoroughly corrupted narco-state."

U.S. Embassy spokesman Tobias Bradford would not discuss the WikiLeaks release, but told reporters it was certainly true "that we are concerned about narco-trafficking in Mozambique."

Prime Minister Aires Ali, reached by The Associated Press on Friday, referred questions concerning the cables to the United States.

"What we know is that we have good relations with the United States," he said. "If you want to know whether the information is true, go and ask the U.S. government. I have no other answer to you on this subject."

In June, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned three Mozambican businesses allegedly connected to a Mozambique man whose name was added by the Obama administration to a list of international drug kingpins.

The U.S. Treasury says that Mohamed Bachir Suleman is a large-scale drug trafficker whose network contributes to the growing narcotics trade and money laundering industry across southern Africa.

The WikiLeaks documents refer to Suleman often, saying he "uses his FRELIMO party connections, as well as his shopping mall, supermarkets, and hotels to import narcotics and launder money without official scrutiny."