Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, head of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, was taken alive overnight by U.S. and Mexican law enforcement at a condominium in the resort of Mazatlan.
The 56-year-old faces multiple drug trafficking indictments. Officials say his drug empire stretches throughout North America and reaches as far away as Europe and Australia.
Mexican authorities paraded their trophy prisoner by the scruff of his neck for all to see.
At a news conference, Mexican authorities said they were able to capture 13 individuals during the operation, including Guzman, without a single shot being fired.
The 56-year-old led Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, responsible for an estimated 25 percent of all illegal drugs that enter the U.S. via Mexico.
Experts say the gang's annual revenues may be more than $3 billion.
Forbes Magazine once included El Chapo on its richest people list, citing his illicit fortune at over $1 billion.
He was also on the DEA's most-wanted list. And in February, Chicago dubbed Guzman the first Public Enemy No. 1 since Al Capone.
Guzman is wanted in at least six U.S. districts and Mexico.
The Sinaloa Cartel is especially notorious for its bloody and indiscriminate violence.
Its battles for turf with other drug gangs have caused carnage in such cities as Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez. An estimated 70,000 Mexicans have died in drug violence since 2006.
Guzman has been on the run since breaking out of prison in 2001.
Experts say that even without him, the cartel will do business as usual.