Guatemala drugs: Zetas cartel suspect Overdick arrested

Alleged Guatemalan drug trafficker Horst Walther Overdick under armed guard in Guatemala City. Mr Overdick is wanted in the US for alleged conspiracy to smuggle cocaine

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Guatemalan police have captured one of the country's most-wanted drug traffickers, the authorities say.

Horst Walther Overdick - known as "the Tiger" - was arrested at a property he owns outside Guatemala City.

He is accused of being a crucial ally of Mexico's notorious Zetas cartel, which has increased its influence in Guatemala in recent years.

President Otto Perez Molina described his arrest as "extremely important".

Security Minister Maurico Lopez said Mr Overdick had played an important role in helping the Zetas move into his home province of Alta Verapaz in northern Guatemala.

He is also wanted for extradition to the US on charges of conspiracy to smuggle cocaine.

Guatemala is an important transit point for South American cocaine smuggled north to the US, with Mexico's powerful drugs cartels increasingly involved.

In 2010 the government declared a state of emergency in Alta Verapaz to combat the rising power of the Zetas.

Former army general Otto Perez Molina was elected president last year after promising an "iron fist" approach to organised criminal gangs.

But since taking office he has also called for a debate on decriminalising drugs as a way of reducing violent crime.

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