Esparragoza is a former police detective turned drug trafficker who serves as an ad hoc negotiator and conciliator amongst drug trafficking clans. Although not as well known as his partners Ismael Zambada Garcia, alias "El Mayo," or Joaquin Guzman Loera, alias "El Chapo," his history in the drug trade is just as long. He started out with the Guadalajara Cartel and may have played a role in the death of the Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena in 1985. He was jailed for seven years, and released in 1992. He later joined forces with the Juarez Cartel and worked under Amado Carrillo Fuentes until Carrillo’s death in 1997.
While Guzman was in jail, Esparragoza helped him maintain his business. And after Guzman escaped jail in 2001, Esparragoza became part of the leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel, which includes Zambada. He is still the central link in family ties between the groups, and is often appointed mediator in their conflicts. Esparragoza married Guzman’s sister-in-law, and is the godfather of Amado Carrillo Fuentes’ son and one of Ismael Zambada’s sons. One of his sons is married to the daughter of one of the Beltran Leyvas.
The U.S. State Department has offered a reward of $5 million for information leading to Esparragoza's arrest.