Henriquez, a mulatto, was a shoemaker by occupation who was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In the latter years of the 17th century, Henriquez decided to try his luck as a sailor and intercepted English merchant ships and other ships dedicated to contraband that were infesting the seas of Puerto Rico and the Atlantic Ocean in general, especially in the areas surrounding Saint Thomas, Curaçao and Jamaica. Henriquez was considered a pirate by the enemies of Spain, since it was a common practice then for the Spanish government to look the other way when ships of other countries were attacked as long as it wasn't one of theirs. The Spanish Crown gave him a special permit to do his pirate activities in the name of Spain. The letter of marque and reprisal granted him the privileges of privateer. Privateers from Puerto Rico were often called "guarda costas", or "coast guards." They operated in the same fashion as any other pirate, the only difference was that they did it in the name of Spain protecting Spanish trade restrictions.