Smugglin' Ain't Easy
Karrde started out working for Jorj Car'das, who taught him all the finer points of emulating Han Solo. After Car'das was hauled off to Kessel, Karrde took over the operation, and became one of the most notable smugglers in the Galaxy, being named Sexiest Smuggler by Lonely Housewife Magazine twice before he decided to let his hair grow and start wearing sleeveless jackets. Karrde remained neutral during the Galactic Civil War, which made sense from a business decision, but earned him some enemies among the more idealistic memebrs of the Rebel Alliance. During a conversation with BoShek in the Mos Eisley Cantina, Karrde accidentally mentioned the time he had smuggled three dead prostitutes out of the Emperor's private bathroom. Since everyone in the Cantina was a spy, this story spread quickly, and the Emperor put Karrde at the top of his most-wanted list. Ahead of the entire Rebel Alliance, including the brat who had destroyed the Death Star.
Karrde was quickly apprehended by Zuckuss, one of the worst Bounty Hunters in the Galaxy. That idiot turned him over to Imperial authorities in Bestine City. He managed to escape before they had even finished filling out the paperwork. He laid low on Tatooine until the Empire was defeated. He picked up some of the pieces of Jabba the Hutt's organization, and coordinated with Duke Spacejogger to meet the smuggling needs of the Galaxy under the New Republic. During this time, he hired Mara Jade, who was looking for a place to completely avoid Luke Skywalker.
Since the New Republic took a pretty strong anti-smuggling position, Karrde eventually positioned his organization to act as a semi-official spy network that also occasionally smuggled. When Mara Jade ran off to train as a Jedi and marry some putz, Karrde replaced her with one of the Tonnika Sisters. It doesn't really matter which one. During the Yuuzhan Vong invasion, Karrde became more and more involved in the New Republic, which later transformed into the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances. Karrde found this new name to be stupid, so he withdrew his support.