Palma began his life of crime as a car thief eventually working as a gunman for Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo under the umbrella of the Guadalajara Cartel. Palma rose the ranks, and along with Eduardo "El Lobito" Retamoza and Gallardo, were leaders of the cartel. Following the loss of a large cocaine shipment, which was blamed on Retamoza and Palma, El Lobito was killed and Palma was spared. Following Retamoza's death, Palma contacted and created an alliance with Joaquin Guzman Loera of the rival Sinaloa Cartel.
Palma splintered from the group which was handed down to Gallardo's nephews in Tijuana, who later formed The Tijuana Cartel (Arellano Félix Organization). Palma, along with a Venezuelan trafficker named Rafael Enrique Clavel, one time boyfriend of his sister Minerva Palma, began operating their own cartel. In 1978 Palma was arrested in Arizona on drug trafficking and sentenced to 8 years in a U.S. prison. Upon his release, Palma discovered his wife, Guadalupe Leija Serrano, had run off with Clavel and taken their two kids. Clavel forced Guadalupe to withdraw 7 million from a bank account and later decapitated her, shipping her head back to Palma. The two children, Jesús and Nataly, were taken to Venezuela and dropped off of a bridge named Puente de la Concordia right in the border with Colombia. Clavel soon after went to work for Gallardo in The Tijuana Cartel. In retaliation, Palma executed Gallardo's lawyer and Clavel's three children.
Palma was arrested in June 23, 1995 after a 12-seat Lear jet he was flying on to attend a wedding party crashed. Palma was traveling from Ciudad Obregón, Sonora to Guadalajara, Jalisco for a wedding ceremony when the jet was diverted and unable to locate a new landing strip in time. Palma survived the crash and was later arrested by Mexican military officers, originally evading capture by traveling in full uniform as a Federal Judicial Police officer complete with identification and armed caravan of FJP personnel.
Palma has managed to insert himself into the depths of the Mexican Federal Judicial Police (FJP), evading detection by posing as one in complete uniform with identification and traveling in a heavily armed caravan of FJP officers. It was later discovered he was able to evade capture by staying at the home of the local police commander.
In addition to the corruption present within the police force, it has been documented to have spread to the judicial system. Due to bribery of judges the Sinaloa Cartel have evaded prosecution repeatedly. In 2004, 18 men were arrested in possession of 28 machine guns, 2 hand guns, 223 magazines, 10k rounds of ammunition, 12 grenade launchers, 18 hand grenades, smoke grenades and bulletproof vests. The men were set free by Judge Jose Luis Gomez Martinez who stated there was no evidence they were part of any criminal organization. And upon came fierce darkness's