MEXICO CITY — Clambering to proclaim victory after more than three years of bloody narcotics warfare, Mexican authorities paraded a Texas-born accused kingpin before the media Tuesday and offered details of his climb through the violent drug underworld before his capture in a mountain hideout.

While speculation surged that Mexico would deport Edgar Valdez-Villarreal, a 37-year-old former football star from Laredo, Texas, to stand trial in the U.S., where he’s still a citizen, there was no immediate sign of action by Mexico or the U.S.

National security spokesman Alejandro Poire described Valdez-Villarreal as “highly dangerous.”

The accused drug lord “has one foot in the airplane bound for the United States,” the usually well-informed El Universal newspaper reported.

Security officials paraded the handcuffed Valdez-Villarreal before the media early Tuesday in an airplane hangar. Valdez-Villarreal smirked, and even chuckled, at the journalists.

Federal police commissioner Facundo Rosas said the capture of Valdez-Villarreal, who’s known by the unlikely nickname of “La Barbie,” came after a yearlong hunt that involved 1,200 law enforcement officers.

Monday afternoon, a ring of security officers encircled the rustic mountain house in Salazar, about 20 miles west of Mexico City, where Valdez-Villarreal had holed up, Rosas said. Mobile phone service in the area was spotty, and the target and six underlings couldn’t summon backup to fight their way free, he said. They were detained around 6:30 p.m. without any gunfire.

“Intelligence information indicates that ‘La Barbie’ trafficked a ton of cocaine each month,” federal police counternarcotics chief Ramon Pequeno said.

Valdez-Villarreal’s capture gives a boost to President Felipe Calderon, who declared war on drug cartels after taking office in late 2006. The death toll, which recently soared past 28,000 people, has soured many Mexicans on Calderon’s tough drug enforcement policies. Valdez-Villarreal is the third top drug lord to be arrested or killed in nine months.

Government officials seemed to be seeking to regain support by offering abundant details about Valdez-Villarreal’s background and capture.

Poire declared that Valdez-Villarreal maintained ties to drug gangs operating in the U.S. and Central and South America, and a series of arrests during the day in Colombia appeared to bear out that claim.

Born in Laredo, Valdez-Villarreal moved to Mexico City, where in 1998 he met Arturo Beltran-Leyva, a drug lord working for the surging Sinaloa Cartel, Pequeno said. As the Texan worked his way up the criminal chain, first in Nuevo Laredo along the border, then starting in 2004 in Acapulco, he nurtured a reputation for extreme violence, including frequent beheadings of the Beltran-Leyva group’s enemies.

The grisly reputation contrasted with his nickname, given because of his blue eyes and fair complexion – reminiscent of Ken, the Barbie doll’s companion.