Federal court records say a lawyer who was slain at a bustling shopping center in suburban Dallas was the acting head of a notorious drug cartel.

If true, it would be another instance of a top cartel leader found operating not in Mexico, but in Texas.

Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa moved into a million-dollar home in Southlake in 2011, two years before he was killed by men who prosecutors say had been stalking him for months.

His killing came the same month as the conviction in Austin of the brother of two top leaders for a competing cartel. Jose Trevino Morales used proceeds from U.S. drug sales to purchase American quarter horses and launder the money.

Authorities say Texas is an important transportation nexus for cartels to move drugs elsewhere.