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Guatemala police detain alleged Zeta leader

A man arrested in the killing of 27 cattle ranch workers is an alleged leader of the Zetas drug cartel in Guatemala and a former soldier, President Alvaro Colom said Wednesday.

Hugo Alvaro Gomez Vasquez, who is suspected of taking part in the weekend massacre in the northern province of Peten, is a former member of the kaibiles, Guatemalan soldiers trained in counterinsurgency methods, Colom said.

"The evidence indicates that he is a one of the high leaders of the Zetas," Guatemala's president told reporters. The Zetas are a brutal, Mexico-based drug cartel that has spread into northern Guatemala.

Gomez Vasquez was taken by helicopter to the capital under heavy security.

He denied the charges in a brief statement to the media, saying "they are accusing me of many things ... but I'm a farmer. I'm from Peten."

Guatemalan authorities said 25 of the 27 victims in the weekend attack had been decapitated. Three survivors are helping authorities in their search for the culprits.