Guatemala court OKs extradition of suspected drug boss to U.S.

GUATEMALA CITY Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:32pm EDT

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - A Guatemalan court authorized on Wednesday the extradition to the United States of Horst Overdick, who is accused of being one of Central America's top drug traffickers with close ties to Mexico's brutal Zetas gang.

Overdick, 44, nicknamed "the Tiger," was arrested in April and judges ruled he was responsible for overseeing large shipments of cocaine from South America to the United States.

The court also said that Overdick helped build clandestine runways to land cocaine shipments in Guatemala and stored the drugs in warehouses.

Guatemalan President Otto Perez must ratify the extradition.

Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez has said Overdick was the most important link in Guatemala for the Zetas, the drug cartel founded by deserters from the Mexican army that has expanded into Central America.

In May 2011, the Zetas beheaded 27 farm workers in northern Guatemala in a dispute with the farm's owner over cocaine shipments to the United States.

A New York district court has requested Overdick's extradition on charges that he helped ship 1,200 kg (2,650 pounds) of cocaine to the United States in 2002.

(Reporting by Mike McDonald; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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