You probably know him by one of his nicknames; Robapapas, Pacho, or H7, but he is formally addressed as Francisco Hélmer Herrera Buitrago or in a shorter form as Pacho Herrera. Pacho lived in Palmira, Valle del Cauca, between 24 August 1951; his birthplace, and 4 November 1998, when he died in the same Palmira, Valle del Cauca. In his time he was the 4th commander of the dreaded Cali cartel. After the Medellin cartel, he was the second most notorious cocaine trafficking cartel in Colombia.
Pacho Herrera’s Bio/Wiki
Pacho grew up in Palmira, a Colombian town in the Valle del Cauca department. He was the son of Benjamin Herrera Zuleta and his wife, who had two other children. Jose Manuel Herrera Buitrago and Ramira Herrera Buitrago were his siblings from the same family.
He lived a total of 47 years and, unlike most of the other children who followed the path of life to which he later turned, he was able to go to school. He studied technical maintenance and gained some work experience doing repair work at home. His theoretical and practical knowledge of his profession enabled him to later secure a job in the USA.
During his stay in the USA, he diversified his sources of income and became a jeweler and precious metal trader for a time. This was not enough for him, as he went further, but this time he went the wrong way when he started peddling cocaine in New York City. The law caught up with him quickly enough when he was arrested for selling and distributing illegal substances. His arrests in 1975 and 78 did not deter H7, who knew no bounds. After each release, he went straight back to his illegal cocaine business and took giant steps.
In 1983 Pacho returned to Cali, Colombia, to negotiate with the Cali cartel for supply and distribution privileges for the New York cocaine market. His proposal was accepted and he joined the cartel. He was successful in opening drug trafficking routes to the United States via Mexico and is also said to have successfully formed alliances with the “Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia” (FARC) and the dreaded guerrilla group “April 19 Movement” to guard his laboratories located in remote areas.
As he was valuable to the Cali cartel, he quickly rose to the ranks of the organization and soon became the 4th commanding officer. Subsequently, Pacho was given command of several towns in northern and southern Cali. It is said that “to whom much is given, much is expected of him”. He roared like a lion in the cocaine trade and was respected, if not feared and shunned by many.
Was Pacho Herrera Gay?
Pacho’s loyalty to the Cali cartel was largely based on the acceptance of his gay sexual orientation. His father, Benjamin Herrera Zuleta, is said to have disowned him for his open homosexuality. The Cali cartel was thus the only large family close to him and he was fully committed to promoting their cause. His status as a gay man stood in sharp contrast to his ruthless cocaine dealing.
Typically, as in those days, cocaine lords were characterized by having crowds of women around them, and it was rare to find an openly gay man who was the predominant force in the cocaine trade. Well, Pacho was an exception, and he rocked the best of both worlds; he was a gay man and a cocaine leading man.
The Cali cartel tolerated Pacho’s gay sexual preference and was publicly known in every corner of Cali. They giggled amongst themselves about his uniqueness and it just ended there. Pacho was valuable to the group because he kept his professional and private life well separated. Both never crossed the path of the other.
Pacho Herrera’s Death
Pacho Herrera died like most men who lived in his time and did what he did, not often in old age. They are either killed in their prime in a gunfight with government police, the military or rival cartel groups. Those who had no firm control over their group are poisoned or, worse, killed by one of their own.
Pacho was quite smart and avoided death in one of these ways. He escaped several assassination attempts by the Medellin cartel and was not known to have involved the Colombian government forces in violent shootings. He often escaped the numerous raids by the Colombian police unharmed.
When the crackdown on the illegal Colombian cocaine industry became intense following the successful assassination of Pablo Escobar by the Colombian police, Pacho Herrera faced the Colombian police forces in 1996 and was given a period of rest.
During his stay in the prison of Palmira, east of Cali, he died in a strange way on the prison’s football field during a break in one of the prison’s games. A man dressed as a lawyer but armed with a pistol found his way into the prison and went straight to where H7 was. He hugged him and fired 6 shots from his pistol, which pierced his abdomen and head. This was the end of the famous H7 and the collapse of the Cali cartel.
The prisoner who was at the scene of the crime was charged with the murder of Pacho and beat him until he lost consciousness. He was later identified as Rafael Angel Uribe, a killer hired by a rival Wilber Varela.
Pacho Herrera’s Net worth
Francisco Hélmer Herrera Buitrago was a successful cocaine smuggler who made billions of dollars from the illegal trade during his lifetime. He was not as rich as the famous Pablo Escobar, but his net worth was estimated at billions of dollars. His exact monetary value cannot be determined because he had several hidden income-generating assets during his lifetime. He certainly died a multi-billionaire, although the New York Times reported that he owned about 12 ranches and 32 companies.