JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Mozambique has become a leading drug trafficking centre in Africa, with high-level government officials receiving bribes to turn a blind eye to the trade, classified U.S. documents released on WikiLeaks said.
“Despite anti-corruption rhetoric, the ruling FRELIMO party has not shown much serious political will to combat narco-trafficking,” said a secret U.S. document from Maputo created in January 2010 and released this week by WikiLeaks.
Mozambique government officials declined to comment on the documents.
The U.S. State Department has officially said the impoverished African state is a transit country for hashish, cannabis, cocaine and heroin consumed primarily in Europe.
Interpol has said it is increasingly becoming a hub for trafficking from Latin America to Europe.
A separate classified document released on WikiLeaks said drug producers from South Asia have joined the fray and are starting to traffic in Mozambique through its Nacala port.
“Mozambique most certainly is not yet a thoroughly corrupted narco-state,” a document from November 2009 said.
“However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the magnitude of the drug shipments passing through Mozambique may be on a much larger scale than previously understood, taking advantage of the country’s long and unprotected coast and the facility with which port and customs officials can be bribed.”
U.S. documents cite police as saying they “are unwilling to go after ‘big fish’ narco-traffickers because of their ties to senior officials.”
Mohamed Bachir Suleman, accused publically this year by U.S. President Barack Obama and the Treasury of being a drug kingpin in Mozambique, was suspected of contributing heavily to FRELIMO’s coffer, the documents said.
The U.S. Treasury Department in June moved to freeze assets of three businesses linked to Suleman.
Treasury said Suleman leads a drug trafficking and money laundering network centred on his family-owned business conglomerate Grupo MBS Limitada.
Attempts to reach Suleman to comment on the allegations have not been successful.
Mozambique has worked with the United States to curb the drug trade and the documents say there has been progress in their joint fight.