Colombian police say he offered nearly $1,000 for every police officer the men murdered.

Alvaro Uribe, the Colombian president, was notified of the capture by police.

Herrera is accused of exporting tonnes of cocaine from the Caribbean coast near Panama, an area governed by his brother in the 1990s when right-wing paramilitaries battled for control of territory against left-wing fighters.

Herrera has been compared to Pablo Escobar, the nation's most famous drug lord, who presided over a billion dollar enterprise and waged war against the state during the 1980s.