You probably know him by any 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 between August 24, 1951, in Palmira, Valle del Cauca; his birthplace and November 4, 1998, when his death occurred in the same Palmira, Valle del Cauca. In his time, he was the 4th in command of the dreaded Cali cartel. The second most notorious cocaine trafficking cartel in Colombia after The Medellin cartel.
Pacho Herrera’s Bio/Wiki
Pacho grew up in Palmira a Columbian 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 same parents.
He lived a total of 47 years and was opportune to go to school, unlike most other kids who took the path of life he later turned to. He studied technical maintenance and garnered some job experience doing repair works back home. His theoretical and practical knowledge of his profession enabled him to secure a job later in the USA.
While in the US, he diversified his sources of income and at a time became a jeweller and dealer in precious metals. This was not enough for him as he went further, this time though, he took the wrong path, as he began peddling cocaine in New York City. The law caught up with him fast enough as he was arrested on the grounds of selling and distributing the illegal substance. His arrests in 1975 and 78 didn’t deter H7 who knew no limits. After every release, he went straight back to his illegal cocaine business taking giant strides.
In 1983, Pacho returned to Cali, Colombia to negotiate supply and distribution privileges with the Cali cartel for the New York cocaine market. His proposal was accepted and he became a member of the cartel. He was successful in opening up drug trafficking routes to the USA via Mexico and was also said to have successfully formed alliances with “Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia” (FARC) and the dreaded guerrilla group “19th of April Movement”, to guard his lab sites located in remote areas.
Being valuable to the Cali cartel, he rose quickly in the ranks of the organization and soon became the 4th in command. Pacho was subsequently put in charge of some northern and southern Cali cities. It is said, ‘to whom much is given, much is expected.’ He roared like a lion in the cocaine trafficking business and was respected by many if not feared and avoided.
Was Pacho Herrera Gay?
Pacho’s loyalty to the Cali cartel came largely from their acceptance of his gay sexual orientation. His father; Benjamin Herrera Zuleta, was said to have disowned him for being openly gay. So the Cali cartel was the only big family close to him and to this, he was fully committed and devoted to advancing their cause. His status as a gay man was rather a sharp contrast to his ruthless cocaine trafficking side.
Typically, cocaine lords as at that time were characterized by having flocks of women around them and rarely will you find an openly gay man who held sway in the cocaine trafficking business. Well, Pacho was an exception and he rocked the best of both worlds; being a gay man and a cocaine kingpin.
The Cali cartel tolerated Pacho’s gay sexual preference and it was public knowledge in every nook and cranny of Cali. They would giggle among themselves about his uniqueness and it just ended there. Pacho was valuable to the group as he kept business professional and his personal life well separated. Both never crossed each other’s path.
Pacho Herrera’s Death
Pacho Herrera like most men who lived when he lived and did what he did didn’t often die at an old age. They either get killed in their prime in a gunfight with government police, military or rival cartel groups. Those who didn’t have firm control over their group get poisoned or worse still get assassinated by one of their own.
Pacho was quite smart and avoided death that came in any of these forms. He escaped several assassination attempts from the Medellin cartel and was not known for engaging Colombian government forces in fierce gun battles. He often eludes scores of raids from the Colombian police unharmed.
When the crackdown on the illegal Colombian cocaine industry became intense after the successful killing of Pablo Escobar by the Colombian police, Pacho Herrera turned himself over to the Colombian police forces in 1996 and had some respite.
While in Palmira prison, east of Cali, he met his death in a peculiar way on the soccer field of the prison during a match break in one of the matches played in the prison. A man dressed as a lawyer but armed with a pistol found his way into the prison and headed straight to where H7 was. He hugged him and fired 6 shots from his pistol which pierced his abdomen and head. That was the end of the famous H7 and collapse of the Cali cartel.
Well, the prisoner’s who were at the scene charged towards Pacho’s assassin and beat him till he lost consciousness. He was later identified as Rafael Angel Uribe, a hitman 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 in his lifetime. He was not as rich as the famous Pablo Escobar but was estimated to have a net worth running into billions of dollars. His exact monetary value cannot be ascertained as he had several hidden income generating assets while he was alive. He certainly died a multi-billionaire even as The New York Times reported that he owned about 12 ranches and 32 companies.