BISSAU: A former navy chief convicted in the United States of drug trafficking arrived on Saturday back in his native Guinea-Bissau, a key transit point in the international cocaine trade.

Jose Americo "Bubo" Na Tchuto was sentenced to four years in jail by a New York federal court this month but was released for time already served.

Na Tchuto's friends, family and a group of curious onlookers all greeted him in the capital, Bissau, where the former drug kingpin looked tired and visibly moved to be back home. "I thank the Lord and all of you who are here," the rear-admiral said in a brief statement to journalists. "I thank God for having helped my husband come back to his family," his wife Cadi said at the scene, smiling broadly. Na Tchuto was captured off the West African coast by agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration in April 2013. His arrest, and the US indictment two weeks later of General Antonio Indjai, head of the Guinea-Bissau army, highlighted the rise in drug trafficking in West Africa, and the country's role as a transit point for the cocaine trade.

Guinea-Bissau has been plagued by military coups and instability since its independence from Portugal in 1974, and in recent years has become a cocaine-trafficking hub.