Miguel Trevino Morales is the leader of the Zetas, world's most violent gang, accused of ordering or personally carrying out some 2,000 murders.
He was arrested Monday by Mexican marines in Ciudad Juarez, just across the border from Texas, without a shot being fired.
Law enforcement officials say Trevino Morales launched his criminal career in North Texas.
The Zetas are the most violent drug cartel in Mexico. They are known for torture tactics including beheadings and massacres that have killed hundreds of people at a time.
The Zetas are even linked to the murder of a U.S. federal agent.
Trevino Morales is considered the game-changer, the enforcer, in the Mexican drug wars.
The head of the Dallas Drug Enforcement Administration office told News 8 that Trevino Morales is the most notorious cartel trafficker he has ever seen.
And he got his start in North Texas.
When Trevino Morales was captured on Monday, the military said they also seized $2 million in cash, nine weapons, and 500 rounds of ammunition in his vehicle.
He led the Zetas to the most violent era in Mexican drug trafficking, and he got his start on the streets of Dallas and Mesquite.
As a teenager, a neighbor confirmed that Trevino Morales lived in a house in the Pleasant Grove area of Dallas.
"His mother rented the house from me for four years," the neighbor told WFAA.
Federal authorities believe Trevino Morales first joined a gang in Dallas and then migrated to Mexico, where he joined the Zetas and eventually became their leader.
"The DEA once came here about 10 years ago and they scared me," said the Pleasant Grove neighbor who did not wish to be identified. "They confused me with him, and they asked me a lot of questions."
The DEA would not confirm when Trevino Morales was last known to have been in North Texas.
His family — including his mother — still live in Mesquite and Dallas.
His brother, Jose Trevino, was arrested in June 2012 for running an illegal horse racing ring that laundered a billion dollars for the Zetas.
Jose Trevino lived in Balch Springs with his wife and children. Police raided the home in June. We went to the house on Tuesday and someone inside called police on us.
A woman came to the door and yelled at officers, but wouldn't come outside. Neighbors said they are familiar with what's going on
"They were nice," said a girl who acknowledged that they might be dangerous people. "My mom told me to look at the news."
Federal agents said the Zetas are responsible for thousands of murders on both sides of the border.
In December 2004, Dallas police said the Zetas may have been responsible for an incident on Mimi Court in which one man was killed and three others were wounded.
The Zetas are Mexico's most violent, if not richest, cartel, with the largest turf. A New York indictment against Trevino Morales estimates he received $10 million per month in income from cocaine sales alone, not to mention the money brought in by the cartel's myriad other illicit activities, including kidnapping, extortion, migrant trafficking, weapons trafficking, even theft of oil from state pipelines.
His arrest was particularly pleasing for the United States. Trevino Morales allegedly orchestrated a series of killings on the U.S. side of the border, including several by a group of young U.S. citizens who gunned down their victims on the streets of Laredo. His gang was also believed to be responsible for the slayings of U.S. ICE Agent Jaime Zapata in 2011 and American citizen David Hartley in 2010 on Falcon Lake, which straddles the U.S.-Mexico border.
President Barack Obama praised the Mexican government and vowed to continue supporting the country's fight against drug traffickers.
"I think what it shows is that the new administration of President Pena Nieto is serious about continuing the efforts to break up these transnational drug operations," Obama said in an interview with Univision Tuesday.
"We have to continue doing our part here in the United States to reduce demand, reduce the flow of guns and cash down south," Obama added. "That's the kind of cooperation that I think President Pena Nieto is looking for."
Trevino Morales is "one of the most significant Mexican cartel leaders to be apprehended in several years," the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said. "His ruthless leadership has now come to an end."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.