U.S. adds Guatemalan man with alleged Zetas ties to drug kingpin list

Story highlights

  • Horst Walter Overdick Mejia has been indicted on drug and weapons charges
  • The U.S. Treasury Department calls him "the head of a major drug trafficking" organization
  • Guatemalan special forces arrested him last month
  • U.S. authorities have said they plan to extradite him
The U.S. Treasury Department added a Guatemalan man to its drug kingpin list Tuesday, describing him as a "critical link" between Colombian drug producers and Mexico's Zetas cartel.
The department's naming of Horst Walter Overdick Mejia as a narcotics trafficker freezes any assets he may have under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits financial and commercial transactions with him.
Last week, federal prosecutors in New York unsealed an indictment charging Overdick with conspiring to import cocaine into the United States and possessing firearms.
Guatemalan special forces arrested the 44-year-old, who is also known as "the Tiger," earlier this month, the Guatemalan state-run AGN news agency reported.
"A veteran spice buyer, he used his local contacts and his business acumen to smuggle thousands of kilograms of cocaine to Mexico and on into the United States," the U.S. Treasury said in a statement Tuesday.
The statement described Overdick as "the head of a major drug trafficking and money laundering organization based in Guatemala" and said that it is widely believed that he was responsible for bringing the Zetas into Guatemala in 2008 to eliminate a competing trafficker.
During an investigation, Guatemalan authorities recovered "a drug ledger detailing the movement of guns, narcotics, and deliveries of money" to Overdick, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York said last week. Authorities also obtained videos of Overdick with prominent members of the Zetas at a large party in Guatemala and at a horse race, prosecutors said
U.S. authorities have said they intend to extradite him.
"When the handcuffs were placed on (Overdick's) hands -- the first step was taken to ensuring that justice is served and that he faces the consequences of his illegal actions of inundating the streets of America with tons of illicit narcotics," Acting DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Wilbert L. Plummer said in a statement last week.