Juan Luis Lagunas Rosales was born in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, a mecca for cartels and the land of notorious drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. Lagunas grew up never knowing his father. His mother left him with his grandmother as a child.
Lagunas left his hometown at the age of 15 without finishing high school, moving to the nearby municipality of Culiacán and washing cars to make a living, he said in an interview in July. It was in this adopted town that he took on the nickname that would later become known across cyberspace: “El Pirata de Culiacán,” or “The Pirate of Culiacán.”
He started landing invitations to more and more parties, and soon fell into a life of excessive drinking. He would post videos on social media showing him chugging beer and bottles of whiskey, sometimes getting so drunk he would pass out. The videos started going viral. In the years that followed, the bingeing teenager became a perverse YouTube sensation. At the age of 17, he racked up more than a million followers on Facebook and more than 300,000 on Instagram. His social media fame started earning him spots in music videos and at promotional events.