HomeNewsAnalysisGuatemala Captures Top Overdick-Zetas Lieutenant
ANALYSIS

Guatemala Captures Top Overdick-Zetas Lieutenant

GUATEMALA / 19 FEB 2012 BY STEVEN DUDLEY EN

Guatemalan authorities captured a top lieutenant of the country's most powerful organized criminal gang, continuing an impressive offensive against the group and its Mexican Zetas allies, launched after the brutal 2011 massacre of 27 farmhands.

ElPeriodico reported that Alvaro Gomez Sanchez, alias "El Sapo Gomez," was captured in Salama, Baja Verapaz, a known center of recruitment and operations for these traffickers. Guatemala's President Otto Perez Molina said the government had been investigating Gomez for two years, and labeled him as the head of the Zetas in Guatemala.

More accurately, Gomez is a top lieutenant for Horst Walther Overdick, alias "El Tigre," (pictured above to the right) a Guatemalan national who is arguably the country's largest suspected drug trafficker.

[See InSight Crime's Profile of Overdick]

Overdick, who is not formally charged with a crime in Guatemala, is the son of a former mayor and officially a local purchaser and purveyor of cardamom.

But as InSight Crime illustrated in a 2011 report, Guatemalan and US authorities believe that Overdick works closely with the Zetas criminal organization, providing logistical support, weapons and drugs that he obtains through his own channels.

[See Part I, II, and III of Zetas in Guatemala report]

Gomez has been charged with "illicit association," according to elPeriodico. He was arrested in 2008, along with Overdick, and charged with illegal possession of a weapon. He and Overdick were both released and the charges dropped. According to numerous local and international sources consulted by InSight Crime, Gomez's role in the organization centered around providing weapons for both the Zetas and Overdick's military cells.

The Overdick-Zetas organization should be able to replace Gomez with ease. It has high level contacts in the military, from which it obtains most of its weaponry. These connections were illustrated by a video, obtained by InSight Crime, showing two high-ranking military officials cavorting with the top echelons of the organization at an informal horse racing event in an airport in central Guatemala.

In October, the Guatemalan army sanctioned the two, identified as Colonel Edgar Ernesto Muralles Solorzano and Lt. Colonel Edwin Herminio Rivas Morales, for attending the event without permission. Each received 40 demerits, an army spokesman told InSight Crime.

The Overdick-Zetas group has been on the offensive against their Guatemalan and Mexican rivals since at least 2010, when a combative Zeta known only as "200" arrived from Mexico. This offensive peaked last May, when a large caravan entered the farm of a suspected rival in the northern province of Peten and killed 27 farmhands, and then murdered a prosecutor who worked in their home base, the Alta Verapaz province.

The Guatemalan government has since engaged in an unprecedented effort to corral this group. The Attorney General's office told InSight Crime that it had arrested 75 suspected members of the Overdick-Zetas organization, not including Gomez. The suspects are mostly Mexican and Guatemalans and range from low to high-level ranks within the group, reaching to the level of financial manager, a critical post in the Zetas (as in any criminal organization).

The top members of the Overdick-Zetas group, however, remain at large, including Walther Overdick and alias "W," (pictured with Overdick above) the top member of the financial wing of the Zetas. These two mysteriously escaped a dragnet in July, even while numerous others, including Overdick's son, were arrested.

The Perez Molina government has indicated that it will use a new "Joint Task Force" to go after these and other Guatemalan groups, and the president said this arrest showed better intelligence gathering was already producing results.

For its part, the United States has indicated that Overdick is its top target. The fact that Overdick has no charges against him in Guatemala helps the US cause. If the US builds a case against him, and he is arrested, Overdick will face the immediate prospect of being extradited to face charges in the US.

It will be harder for the US to get their hands on Gomez. Guatemalan law prohibits extraditing suspects until they have settled their cases in country. In an odd twist, there are some who think this was Gomez's strategy: shield himself from extradition to the US by getting arrested and tried in Guatemala.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ELITES AND CRIME / 25 JAN 2022

A fugitive former minister linked to a multi-million dollar cash seizure has turned himself over to Guatemalan authorities at an…

CIACS / 12 DEC 2022

Guatemala's former President Otto Pérez Molina and former Vice President Roxana Baldetti were sentenced to 16 years in prison on…

ELITES AND CRIME / 28 APR 2021

US sanctions on two Guatemalan politicians -- one a political operator and the other an influential legislator -- are the…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…

THE ORGANIZATION

‘Ndrangheta Investigation, Exclusive Interview With Suriname President Make Waves

2 DEC 2022

Two weeks ago, InSight Crime published an investigation into how Italian mafia clan the ‘Ndrangheta built a cocaine trafficking network from South America to ‘Ndrangheta-controlled Italian ports. The investigation generated…