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Characters / Better Call Saul: Cartel

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Character subpage for characters affiliated with the Juarez Cartel in Better Call Saul. For the Salamancas when they appear in Breaking Bad, click here. For other cartel members as depicted in Breaking Bad, click here. For the main character page, click here.

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    Eladio Vuente 

Don Eladio Vuente

Portrayed By: Steven Bauer

  • Bad Boss: Seemed willing to push Hector aside in favor of Gus. A risky move regarding both people, considering he had Gus' partner murdered, by Hector no less. His employees seem to be constantly on guard waiting for the moment he decides to kill them.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: His manner of talking to his employees is full of Mood Whiplash and leaves his employees and the audience on edge regarding when he's gonna get truly murderously angry.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: It really just doesn't seem to dawn on him that his murder of Max is more or less Gus' sole motivating factor in their partnership together.
  • Call-Forward: We're introduced to Eladio diving into his pool; many years later, he'll be poisoned by Gus and fall lifelessly into his pool from the very same angle.
  • The Dreaded: Juan Bolsa warns Hector against insulting Don Eladio. Bolsa doesn't even like Hector.
  • Fat Bastard: Or at least a ruthless cartel boss with lots of loose skin. Its even Lampshaded by the puppet.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Seems like a pretty cool guy to have a beer with. It's all an act. As said, his speech is full of Mood Whiplash.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: True to form, he has little to do with the main plot but is higher ranked than Hector who's the Big Bad from Gus and Mike's perspectives.
  • Greed: Is more than a little eager to jump into bed with Gus after he sees the kind of cheddar they're hauling in, despite the fact he murdered Gus' partner when they pitched him more or less that very same idea.
  • Jerkass: He seems bubbly, quirky, and fun, but he's really just a mean-spirited thuggish Bad Boss who likes to bully people for his own sadistic gratification.
  • "Just Joking" Justification: Pulls this when shit-talking Hector, but it's transparent to all parties involved, including himself.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: He taunts and heckles Hector by calling his money stash cute, this is Hector we're talking about here.
  • Opportunistic Bastard: As seen in Greed, he doesn't seem to plan ahead but latches on convenient money grabbing opportunities.
  • Pride: Eladio's arrogance, along with his avarice, sees him easily seduced by Gus with a grand and easy cash flow, when Eladio should really know better than to rub elbows with an utterly calculating man with a massive grudge against him.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: He needles Hector with a smooth voice and disarming mannerisms.
  • Tension-Cutting Laughter: The Mood Whiplash we're talking about, its an effective intimidation tactic to keep his underbosses on edge.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Accused of this by Hector. He discarded the Salamanca, who helped building his criminal empire and gave him their best enforcers, for a Chilean who brings more money.

    Juan Bolsa 

Don Juan Bolsa

Portrayed By: Javier Grajeda

  • Affably Evil: Is a professional, calm criminal even when liasing with Gus Fring who hates the Cartel's guts. We've yet to see his Faux side like we do in Breaking Bad, so he qualifies as this trope. He doesn't even like Hector but, nevertheless, tries to non-confrontationally discourage him from insulting Don Eladio.
  • Boring, but Practical: Bolsa is much less emotional than Hector and goes about things in a calm, professional manner. Nor is Bolsa the blatantly threatening killer that Hector is. Hector enjoys wielding his power, runs roughshod over everyone and has a voice like Satan himself. Bolsa looks more like a harmless middle manager. This quietly competent style of management works wonders for him; his partnership with Gus helps him gain favor with Don Eladio.
  • Co-Dragons: With Hector to Don Eladio on the business side.
  • Nothing Personal: Tries to go for this angle with Hector, but Hector will have none of that.
  • Pet the Dog: Despite grumbling that Hector has always been nothing but trouble, Bolsa ensures Hector's territory remains his even after he and Tuco are put out of commission, rather than seizing it for himself.
  • The Rival: Seems to be one with Hector, although Bolsa doesn't seem to purposefully engage all that much. He even sincerely cautions Hector about insulting Eladio and otherwise seems rather modest. Justified as while Bolsa wants to look better toward Eladio he is scared of Hector (in Breaking Bad he wouldn't even rat Hector when he pissed in Eladio's pool).
  • Yes-Man: He's this to Don Eladio compared to the defiant Hector.

The Salamanca Family

    Hector Salamanca 

Hector "Tio" Salamanca
"I am the Cartel!"
Portrayed By: Mark Margolis

"How about the payment is you get to live?"

Tuco Salamanca's elderly uncle.

  • All for Nothing: The deal he made with Mike and then Gus in order to get Tuco out of prison quickly turns out to be rendered moot by Tuco starting a fight in prison and getting solitary confinement.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: What he propositions Mike with, then Gus, with thousand-dollar deals so as to get Tuco out of prison.
  • Appeal to Force: Follows the old gangsta modus operandi: Be a blatant Jerkass as long as everybody around you fears you. This may explain the lack of cash haul compared to Gus and Bolsa.
  • Bad Boss: He shouts at his underlings a lot and treats them with blatant contempt, as well as chastising Ximenez Lecerda for the crime of daring to say hello to Don Eladio.
  • Berserk Button: Granted, it doesn't take all that much to set him off but it's still frightning to see him lose it completely upon learning that Tuco extended his prison sentence by stabbing a fellow inmate.
    "What?! All he had to do was six months! He'll be in there forever!"
  • Big-Bad Ensemble: Along with Chuck during seasons 2 and 3. He is the Big Bad for the storylines Mike, Nacho, and Gus. What keeps him from being an Arc Villain like Chuck is that he's the head of the Salamanca cartel with vast criminal connections and sets up many plot point for what's to come in Breaking Bad, namely Mike and Gus meeting each other and eventually working together. What keeps him from being the sole Big Bad of those seasons however is that Chuck is still the main obstacle to Jimmy The Protagonist who inadvertently molds him into Saul Goodman.
  • Bullying a Dragon: His efforts to intimidate Mike by threatening his family, who he seems to think is relatively harmless for an ex-cop. This is especially true since Mike starts to go well out of his way to try to see Hector arrested or dead. He doesn't fare better with Gus, who already took Hector's spot as Eladio's favorite.
  • Butt-Monkey: He doesn't have luck during Season 3. His nephew picks a fight with a guard in jail, his boss wants to cast him aside in favor of Gus and his second Villainous Breakdown leads to his heart attack in the finale.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Hector is not happy at being told by Don Eladio that Los Pollos Hermanos trucks will now take over drug running permanently - everyone involved can go and fuck themselves.
  • Cool Car: He has this in common with Tuco, driving around in a 1960 Chevrolet Impala.
  • Dirty Old Man: It's actually a major plot-point. Once he's in early recovery from the stroke, it's not obvious to anyone whether or not Hector is mentally sound. It's not until Gus catches him perving on a nurse half his age that he realizes his mind is crystal clear, so Gus has Hector's treatment cancelled so he'll never be able to physically recover.
  • Doomed by Canon: He'll get a stroke in order to be paralyzed for Breaking Bad. As of the Season 3 finale, he suffers a heart attack that results in his paralysis.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Insists on getting respect because the Cartel was in his eyes propped up by the Salamanca family, "Salamanca money.".
  • The Dreaded: He and his family have quite a bad reputation according to people's reaction when his name gets brought up. Even the Pollos Hermanos employee who never heard of him but can tell rather quickly he is bad news.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He tries to get his nephew out of jail, willing to send $50,000 to Mike to do so.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He appears sincerely angered that Tuco showed disrespect to elders by attacking Mike. Given that Hector is even older than Mike, this makes sense.
  • Evil Is Petty: His manner of intimidating the customers and Los Pollos Hermanos employees, from blatantly lighting a cigar when its against Los Pollos Hermanos' rules, helping himself to a drink for free, as well as scraping dog shit in Gus' office.
  • Evil Old Folks: He's elderly, but still a savvy and dangerous man.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He's much more fastidious than we're used to. He comes at Mike politely and attempts to bribe him into accepting the gun charge. Given what we would see of him in flashbacks in Breaking Bad, this is a surprise. The mask drops completely when Mike refuses his offer. As things continue to go progressively bad for him, his temper (which wasn't great to begin with) degrades. He also tries the charming act with Nacho when he wants to use his father's store as a front but Nacho's savvy enough about it.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: The scene with Eladio and Bolsa seems to really convey this vibe. By "Fall", the feeling is very much mutual.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: He's quietly (but not subtly) furious when Bolsa and Gus gain Eladio's favor with their superior cash haul.
  • Hypocrite: Pushes the family values side of things but has no problem not so subtly trying to charm Nacho into getting his father involved in the drug business. Either that or he genuinely thinks that it's in Nacho's interest.
  • I Am the Noun: Hector shows the depths of his arrogance when he declares to be the Cartel, showing no consideration for how Eladio and Bolsa might feel...and react.
  • It's All About Me: Eladio already has Gus as distributor in New Mexico and Hector brings way less money than him, but Hector wants to do his own racket there and even fashioned himself as being the Cartel. He even wants to take over Nacho's dad's store only because he doesn't have full control over Pollos Hermanos and want his front to himself.
  • Jerkass: Hector isn't just a murderous gangster, he's also a truly colossal prick. He is a petty, Politically Incorrect Villain after all.
  • Leave No Witnesses: After Mike attacks one of his trucks, Hector executes both a witness who stumbled upon it and the driver of the truck.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: He makes jibes against Gus' presumed relationship with Max by calling Pollos Hermanos the 'Butt Brothers'.
  • Saved by Canon: He's a major character in Breaking Bad so he'll survive this show.
  • Smug Snake: It's true Hector is not a man to be crossed, but he vainly boasts that he 'is the cartel' when in truth he's (admittedly very) upper middle management at best.
  • Stupid Evil: His direct approach to dealing with Gus and Eladio is unsubtle, crass and suicidally disrespectful.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Sorta. In all present-day scenes in Breaking Bad, Hector's stroke had rendered him mute. Better Call Saul takes place before Breaking Bad and before Hector's stroke. So this is the first time we've seen Hector speak outside of flashbacks in either show, and also the first time we've seen him speak in English (the two Breaking Bad flashbacks were in Spanish).
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Looks very smart when entering Los Pollos Hermanos.
  • Trespassing to Talk: Hector intimidates the customers of Los Pollos Hermanos into leaving before basically taking over the place just so he can speak to Gus. He even sits in Gus's office chair and uses Gus's pen to scrape dog shit off his shoe...onto Gus's papers.
  • Villainous Breakdown: After hearing that Tuco has landed himself in solitary with a greatly extended sentence for punching a guard and knifing someone, he has a violent fit that leaves him scrabbling for his pills, played as a tease for the stroke that will leave him paralyzed. After Juan Bolsa shows up to firmly remind Hector that he's under orders to use Gus's distribution network, Hector completely loses it and goes on an indignant, furious and near-suicidally disrespectful rant as to how their empire was "built with Salamanca blood," leading to his suffering a heart attack. He's practically on the verge of tears by the time the heart attack swoops in.
    Bolsa: It's what the boss wants.
    Hector: The boss can suck me!
    Bolsa: I'd watch what I say if I were you.
    Hector: Who you think you are? You should be kissing my ass right now. Me and my family? We built this whole business.
    Bolsa: We all did. Together.
    Hector: No, no! Salamanca did! Salamanca money! Salamanca blood!
    Bolsa: You have to calm down.
    Hector: That hacienda! I paid for it. And you treat us like dogs!
    Bolsa: Hector, this isn't personal -
    Hector: It is! It is personal!
  • Villainous Valor: Hector may be an asshole who's Bullying a Dragon, but he stands on equal footing with Mike when the two of them have their showdown, displaying no fear and remaining completely stoic regarding their encounter possibly turning fatal.
  • Worthy Opponent: He agrees to pay Mike ten times what he originally offered. Anybody else probably would have been shot in the head, but Hector appreciates a man with the giant balls to face him without fear. The fact that Mike completely schooled the enforcers he sent probably had something to do with it too. (He might, however, still have underestimated the headache Mike could well give him despite the respect.)
  • Would Hurt a Child: Threatens to send Leonel and Marco to the motel where Stacey and Kaylee are shacked up to scare Mike.
  • You Have Failed Me: He tends to do this with his employees; Eladio even warns poor Ximenez that Hector doesn't do second chances. Sure enough, he has Ximenez murdered by The Cousins after Mike holds him up.

    Eduardo "Lalo" Salamanca 

"Never in your life have you tasted something so delicious, it's true. Wait, wait... you're gonna die."
Portrayed by: Tony Dalton

  • Disproportionate Retribution: When a kid refuses to tell Lalo important information previously told to Mike regarding Werner's whereabouts, his response is to sneak up the ceiling tiles, crash down behind him and murder him.
  • The Dreaded: Krazy-8 and the El Michoacano cook are left completely terrified by Lalo's presence when Nacho first encounters him. And Jimmy will eventually become so scared shitless of Lalo that years later, when Walt and Jesse threaten him in the desert, he will assume Lalo has come to kill him.
  • The Evil Genius: Of the Salamanca family. Lalo is the ideas man who uses his intelligence and cunning to overcome obstacles when most of his relatives opt for simple force.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Lalo comes off as the most easy-going and "normal" Salamanca family member, in sharp contrast to their usual Ax-Crazy brand. However, much of his affableness is steadily revealed to be an act, and underneath the jovial and complimentary attitude, he greatly enjoys violence and has nothing but contempt for those outside his family.
  • Foil: To every other major Salamancas in both shows:
    • To Tuco: Both crime bosses are underlings of their uncle Hector. Both enjoyed cooking. However Tuco is a hammer with violence as the weapon of choice, Lalo is a scapel, precise, stealthy & effective. Tuco is violently unhinged and make no effort to hide it. Lalo is Faux Affably Evil and masks his unsavory nature behind politeness and easy smiles. He still exploded when he was outplayed but quickly refocus unlike Tuco who tended to dwell.
    • To Hector: Their first scene together was them reminiscing and laughing about a hotel they burned down showing that deep down, they are both violent sociopaths. However, Hector was a Politically Incorrect Villain, a Hate Sink that nobody likes In-Universe. Lalo acts charming, Nice to the Waiter and uses it well to his advantage.
    • To the twins: The twins and Lalo are both reinforcement to Hector during difficult time and they are both effective at their job. However, the twins are pure muscle, One-Man Army who focus on bringing the pain while Lalo is the Intelligence Operative investigating the threat of Gus Fring.
  • Only Sane Man: Of the Salamanca family. The Salamancas tend to kill needlessly and doom themselves with their erratic, illogical or unpredictable behaviour; Tuco is driven by impulse, the Cousins are bloodthirsty and adhere to codes of honor and even patriarch Hector is an impatient, Hot-Blooded Jerkass of a Bad Boss who's difficult to work with. Lalo, on the other hand, goes out of his way to be polite, does not cultivate a threatening image, and is much more calculating than any other Salamanca. He's much more akin to Gus, playing the game by appearing innocuous and taking the logical route, masking just how dangerous he is. Of course, he's still a murderous sadist, so he's only the sane one in comparison to his unhinged relatives.
  • Properly Paranoid: Unlike most of the cartel's leadership, (who are blindly seduced by the cash flow) Lalo does not trust Gus at all. He is also fully aware of the bad blood between Hector and Fring and confronts him on the suspicious strides he took to save his uncle's life. He is absolutely right to be suspicious of Gus, even when it comes to Gus saving Hector's life.
  • Real Men Cook: Similar to Tuco, Lalo seems to enjoy cooking and is introduced cheerily whipping up tacos in the kitchen of El Michoacano.
  • Saved by Canon: Ambiguous. When Walt and Jesse abduct Saul/Jimmy in Breaking Bad, he assumes that Lalo has come back to kill him, meaning he thinks Lalo is still alive. However, Lalo makes no appearance during the Cartel's war with Gus. Notably, after Joaquin Salamanca is killed, Gus makes a point of gloating to Hector that Joaquin was his last living relative and that the Salamanca name will die with him, further muddying Lalo's status.

    Tuco Salamanca 

Tuco Salamanca
""King Breaker"? So That makes me the king! Whoo-hoo!"
Portrayed by: Raymond Cruz

"Our connect was a guy called Dawg Paulson. One day, ­Tuco's settling up with Dawg. He decides to put on his lie detector. Dawg's like, "what the hell?" You know. Tuco just keeps staring at him. Then he goes real quiet. "You think I'm an idiot, Dawg?" He thinks Dawg is supplying his competitor, trying to cut Tuco out. Dawg, he denies it. "No way! Not me!" Tuco doesn't even raise his voice, but suddenly, he's got a sawed-off and... Right in Dawg's face. I was behind him. Sickest thing I ever saw, to this day. [...] The thing about it was, Tuco really liked Dawg. Kind of felt bad afterwards."
Nacho Varga

A drug distributor in Albuquerque's South Valley.

  • Ax-Crazy: True to form. He has all kinds of gruesome fates planned for the skateboarders who insulted his Abuelita, and even gets threatening towards No-Doze for making a little comment against Jimmy.
  • Berserk Button: The man is a walking, talking minefield of these. One of the reason he's so terrifying to work with is because it's unclear what will set him off. Simply nicking his car and not being scared of him is enough to drive him into a homicidal rage, and even saying something supportive might make him lose his mind. One consistent rule, though, is family: threatening or insulting his grandmother is like wearing a giant "please torture me to death" sign on your chest.
  • Blood Knight: Getting put into checkmate via a police audience? No reason to stop punching with an appreciative smile.
  • The Brute: Of the Salamanca family. He's an important enforcer, but thats the limit of his talents. He's not as skilled a Professional Killer as his twin cousins, and certainly not as clever as Lalo or Hector.
  • Call-Forward: When No-Doze oversteps his boundaries Tuco gets in his face and threatens him. Breaking Bad fans know that Tuco will eventually beat No-Doze to death for this very reason.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Jimmy’s entire negotiation with him to spare the skateboarders is a long, LONG string of Tuco taking small tidbits in the other man’s words and twisting them into something… they really aren’t.
    Jimmy: Ever heard of the Code of Hammurabi? Eye for an eye?
    Tuco: Eye for an eye… you want me to blind them!
    Jimmy: See, I'm suggesting you make the punishment fit the crime.
    Tuco: "Punishment fit the crime." Colombian neckties! I cut their throats, and pull their lying tongues out through slits. Biznatch!
  • Cool Car: Drives a 1970 Pontiac Tempest GT-37.
  • Chronic Villainy: He can't even behave when in jail on a fairly short sentence that only requires good behavior.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: He plans on brutally executing the Lindholm twins for insulting his grandmother. Jimmy has to talk him down so that he only breaks one of each of their legs. He also attacks Mike for "accidentally" sideswiping his car (a gambit set up by Mike and Nacho to get Tuco out of the way without killing him). Although Mike did grab him and knock his gun away before he starts seriously beating on Mike but that's like beating someone for defending himself of a mugger.
  • The Dreaded: While not as powerful as Walt, Gus, Lydia, or the Neo-Nazis, Tuco is still a force to be reckoned with. And he hasn't even found out yet that Nacho has been making deals behind his back.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: His love for his grandmother is completely genuine (compared to his uncle Hector, for whom it seems to be more out of fear), and he tries to hide his criminal activities from her. Insulting her in any way will get you a painful death.
  • First-Episode Spoiler: Sure, he shows up very early in the show and it is a prequel, but the revelation that he was the grandson of the skateboarders' scam victim was a large surprise for those who've seen Breaking Bad and didn't expect his actor to reprise the role.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: He's the most powerful drug dealer featured on the show so far, but has only appeared in three episodes. Justified as his appearance was only meant to be an Easter egg for Breaking Bad fans.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Naturally. Just about anything will send him into a murderous rage. Nacho even puts a hit on him partly because he is sick of his kill-happy attitude. Heck, "continue punching the insulter even though the police have boxed me in"? One hell of a temper, dude.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Nowhere near as bad as it was in Breaking Bad, but it's still one hell of a jump to conclude "eye for an eye" means "blind someone".
  • Knight of Cerebus: The show was pretty light-hearted in the beginning until he shows up and nearly kills Jimmy.
  • Large Ham: Though he's actually very calm when his Abuelita is around, as soon as he takes Jimmy out into the desert he turns back into the screaming, Ax-Crazy madman that we are familiar with.
  • The Millstone: Although his fearsome management style and reputation is good at making underlings fear him according to Juan Bolsa, his temper is really bad for business to the point his partner was ready to kill him for it and despite Hector's intervention he keeps stretching his sentence by picking a fight in prison, with a guard no less.
  • Meaningful Name: Carrying over from the original show, his name means "rat" or "little terrorist" in Spanish.
  • Put on a Bus: Sent to prison for at least five years. His uncle arranged to make it six months but his behavior makes it harder. Justified in Real Life by Raymond Cruz not wanting to play the role too often, as he finds it exhausting to be that Ax-Crazy even for pretend.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: He has a very childish demeanor, and is an unstable and violent drug dealer. It's implied that this might be the result of his uncle Hector's unconventional methods.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Wears a salmon pink shirt in his first appearance. Since hotter colours on the show mean he's further up on the crime scale, this was suitable.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red to Nacho's Blue.
  • Saved by Canon: As a Breaking Bad character, it will be many, many years before he's killed by Hank.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Just like in the first show. He only gets one scene in season 2, but that one scene marks a big shift in Mike's life as it brings him into conflict with the other Salamancas and that's a major step in his path towards working with Gus Fring.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: When his Abuelita is around he speaks in a very low and frightening whisper, as he obviously doesn't want to disturb her in any way. When she's not around, however...
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: He probably wouldn't last as long in the cartel if it weren't for his Uncle.
  • Starter Villain: In both series, he appears as an antagonist early in the show before being written off to make way for other Big Bads.
  • The Unexpected: While most fans were expecting cameos from Breaking Bad characters other than Saul and Mike, nobody was expecting Tuco to make an appearance.
  • Tranquil Fury: Very calmly tells his Too Dumb to Live sidekick No-Doze, "Stop Helping". Fast forward to, Breaking Bad, and it's not so tranquil.
  • Too Dumb to Live: "Hey, my uncle got me a really sweet deal only getting 6 months in prison, better stab this other inmate and assault a guard!" Really it's a miracle that he was actually out of prison by 2008.

    The Cousins 

Leonel & Marco Salamanca
Portrayed By: Daniel & Luis Moncada

Tuco's cousins, ruthless hitmen and enforcers for their uncle Hector.

  • Bald of Evil/Beard of Evil: True of both.
  • Co-Dragons: They're the most capable and deadly killers in the Salamanca family.
  • The Dreaded: Mike is scared shitless by them just appearing overlooking the pool while he's supervising Kaylee. Even moreso when Marco does a gun sign towards Kaylee.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: Marco wears a blood red suit.
  • One-Man Army: The two of them cleared out the lair of a rival gang with little effort.
  • Pet the Dog: Even if it leans toward pragmatism, they go through great strides to ensure Nacho's survival following a staged shootout, even offering a blood transfer. A more genuine petting moment comes when Nacho helps rescue Leonel from being pinned down by rival gangbangers, after which Marco gives him a slight nod of respect.
  • Put on a Bus: They leave Hector's side by Season 3, it's mentioned that they are keeping an eye on Tuco's time in jail among other things. It's entirely possible they were only brought along in order to intimidate Mike, and once he agreed to Hector's deal they simply returned to their own business. Averted by Season 4, where they take more active roles following their uncle's stroke.
  • Saved by Canon: It's a long time before they have their encounter with Hank in a parking lot.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Hector is willing to send them after Mike's granddaughter if he doesn't comply.

Los Pollos Hermanos


    Gus Fring 
For Gus Fring, see here.

    Mike Ehrmantraut 
For Mike Ehrmantraut, see here.


    Criminal Associates and Los Pollos Employees 
For all remaining members and associates, see here.

Associates, dealers and soldiers

    Nacho Varga 

Ignacio "Nacho" Varga
"I'm not "getting" into anything. I'm in it."
Portrayed By: Michael Mando

"The cops are out there right now, poking into my business, and if they find something on me or my partners, for real, it’s gonna be bad for you – really bad."

An ambitious associate the Cartel, working within the Salamanca cartel. While not yet a kingpin himself, Nacho is bright and has the ear of his terrifying boss, Tuco.

  • Advertised Extra: At least in the first season. Michael Mando is credited for every episode as though Nacho is a full-time character, yet he only appears in four out of the ten episodes, and mostly is a One-Scene Wonder. He gets a lot more screentime over the course of the second and third season.
  • Affably Evil: Zig-zagged, but mostly played straight. Nacho can be cold and a straight-up Jerkass at times (like when he threatens to have Jimmy killed if he doesn't get him out of jail) but he's far more friendly and reasonable than most of his associates when things are going well.
  • Anti-Villain: Nacho is strictly into underworld business in the hopes of securing himself financially before quickly retiring, being a Consummate Professional horrified by the cruelty and chaos surrounding him the further he is ensnared with the Salamanca family and Gus Fring.
  • Ascended Extra: Nacho started out as one of Tuco's henchmen, but then got more and more screen time and development as the series progressed. By Season 3, he firmly begins to develop a subplot of his own as he tries to get rid of Hector to stop him from using Nacho's father's upholstery shop as a front, then finds himself in debt to Gus after Gus finds out about it.
  • Benevolent Boss: Though he's very stern, Nacho is an extremely reasonable boss when compared to the likes of the Salamancas. He is open to small talk from his dealers, was willing to let Krazy-8 go unpunished for being short on his payments (until Hector intervened), and later let a mouthy punk similarly short go with only a warning and missing earring.
  • Butt-Monkey: A dark example. Despite appearing as a hardened criminal badass early on, it becomes increasingly clear Nacho had little idea what insanity he was getting himself into with the Cartel, and nothing goes right for him following Tuco's imprisonment. After causing Hector's stroke, he humiliatingly becomes Gustavo's chew toy subject to being shot if necessary. Heck, even before Tuco's imprisonment, Jimmy and Mike decided to ruin all his side gigs, everyone Saved by Canon seemingly making it their mission to screw Nacho.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Despite doing everything Mike instructs him to do to cover his tracks in poisoning Hector, it's not enough to stop Gus from finding out and then using it to blackmail him.
  • Consummate Professional: Nacho is so far the only person aside from Gus and Mike who keeps things professional in the series (and even then those two are still partly fueled by revenge). He didn't seek revenge on Jimmy when he pointed out how dumb his arrest was, he hires Mike even though he made a fool out of him and although he is hot blooded he refrains himself of doing something purely out of anger. That doesn't necessarily make him a good criminal though, just a reasonable one.
  • Don't Tell Mama: Like Tuco, he keeps his criminal activities from certain family members, in this case his father. He seems to be better at it, though.
  • The Dragon: To Tuco, then Hector on paper. Then he finds himself forced into being one for Gus when Gus finds out about his role in Hector's stroke.
  • Dragon Ascendant: Arranges for Tuco to be sent to prison for 5 years for assaulting Mike.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Going behind Tuco's back in a number of ways strongly suggests he has plans of his own. Turns out he is trying to kill Tuco before Tuco kills him.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He works with his dad in a car upholstery store. When he thinks Mike is threatening his family, he gets quite angry. He is even willing to defy Hector over getting his father in the business.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • He's disgusted by Tuco's random and totally unneeded murder of Dog Paulson to an extent that seems to go beyond just pragmatism. Doesn't help that Tuco could have killed him too by accident. This is why he seeks to have Tuco removed from the scene. He's also pretty scared when Hector threatens Mike's family - and genuinely shaken seeing the number Tuco did on Mike.
    • Killing of innocent people may be something Nacho isn't willing to tolerate. He seems reluctant to tell Mike about what happened to the good Samaritan who came upon the truck driver. And when asked, he was very blunt and obviously disturbed by it. This trope is further supported when he non verbally signals Hector's goon Arturo to stop blocking the customers' escape.
  • Evil Is Petty: When Mike insists that Nacho make up the missing $20 in his drug payment, Nacho drops the bill on the ground to make Daniel have to scramble for it.
  • Foil: To Mike, both have a code of honor and are business oriented criminals, which makes most of their conversations go smoothly even when they are on opposite sides or working as frenemies. The main difference is experience with Nacho being young and abrasive while Mike is an old Grumpy Bear.
  • For Want of a Nail: Had he just stuck to taking the ill-gotten gains of his victims with little fanfare, he'd have gained more.
  • Genre Blind: Mostly because of existing Breaking Bad hindsight, but Nacho comes across this way when it seems he really doesn't know just how bad the Salamancas can be if/when one of their family members gets murdered. A random, "drug-related" hit? Would not be quietly accepted as the price of doing shady business, nor would it be left unchallenged: nearby scapegoats could and would be found, regardless. His worse flaw is that he thinks all criminals understand how it works. That crooks aren't dumb enough to incriminate themselves or that the Cartel will think of Tuco's death as an occupational hazard incident, and won't go in an all out vendetta over and across the border to get revenge. The truth is there is a bunch of idiotic or aggressive crooks who won't take the reasonable course of action.
  • The Heavy: Since Tuco is a Greater-Scope Villain, Nacho serves as the main criminal threat here. Although not so much with the likes of Don Eladio, Hector and Gus in the picture.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: He's really not that good at understanding just how much new crooks really don't think like pros. Nor does it seem he realises just how bonkers the Salamancas are as a whole, seeing how he seems to think it's just Tuco who is kill-happy (and may have been in the dark regarding Hector or the Cousins).
  • Hot-Blooded: Although much, much calmer than his volcanos of bosses, Nacho is not above his own rash decisions and temper flare-ups.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: In Season 3, Nacho is left shaken from Hector making him beat up Krazy-8 for being short on his drug payments. Plus he resists when Hector decides he wants to turn Nacho's father's upholstery shop into a new front business that will recover his drug supply line, reminding Hector that his dad is not in the business. It's especially the latter infringement that convinces Nacho to turn against Hector.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Gets chewed out by Jimmy for being an evidence-leaving version of these tropes. The dollar signs in his eyes made him rush to take an overly simplistic and too-direct approach to trying to get the money out of the Kettlemans. Solo. Even stupider when you consider who his boss is: cutting Tuco out the loop? How'd that get clever?
  • The Mole: Blackmailed by Gus into becoming his mole in the Cartel after Don Hector's stroke.
  • Mugging the Monster: Nacho likes to rip off other thieves because he knows that his victims won't be able to go to the police to report him for theft because that would mean having to admit to theft themselves. He tried to do this to the Kettlemans, but the Kettlemans and Jimmy kept him from going through. However, he succeeds at doing this to Daniel Wormald. But when Daniel decides to report the theft to the cops, Mike manages to arrange a deal wherein Nacho gets Daniel's Hummer in exchange for the cards and some of the money, resulting in Nacho making about $60,000 in total.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: His way to get rid of a problem and avoid repercussion. It's how he deduced Mike is the one that attacked Ximenez since anyone else would have killed him to avoid any chances of him identifying his assailant to the Salamanca. Mike however explained to him even a dead person can point toward you and suggest other, more complicated solutions.
    Mike: Killing a Salamanca, that's a bell you don't unring.
  • Nerves of Steel: Rarely raises his voice and takes Tuco and Hector's tantrums cooly. He's also pretty calm when dealing with Victor and Tyrus threatening him at gunpoint. The only time that he really loses his composure is after he's blackmailed into working for Gus.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: He's so impartial to his sexy mistresses that it's a wonder as to why he even keeps them around.
  • Only Sane Man: He's far more level-headed than Tuco... and, is very aware of not just that, but just how much Tuco relies on his family ties to stay in his position — and, what that means for anybody perceived as trying to cross him. Nacho even tries to make clear to Jimmy exactly what he's gotten himself into and how he can survive it as a Pet the Dog head's up. However, this relative sanity is by contrast to Mr Impulsively Psycho, Esq: by other standards, he's quite hot-headed and rather long term consequences-blind.
  • Paid Harem: In the big Time Skip, once his injuries are healed and he's a comfortable lieutenant to Gus, his borderline mansion comes with two girlfriends.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • In his first appearance, he has the decency to point out to Tuco that unlike Cal and Lars, Jimmy is giving Tuco respect, and therefore should be spared. This might be less out of compassion, though, and more about the $1.6 million that Jimmy has already mentioned and that Nacho figures he can get his hands on...if Jimmy isn't killed first.
    • A straighter example is deciding not to kill Mike after finding out he was about to put Hector, and by extension Nacho himself, under cop surveillance. He doesn't even care about the money being stolen since it's not his.
    • When Krazy 8 pleads for leniency for being short on his payments, Nacho obliges and gives him another week to make up for it. Hector is not amused.
    • He non verbally tells Arturo to let a mother and her child leave Los Pollos Hermanos when Hector starts acting out in an effort to intimidate Gus.
  • Pragmatic Villainy:
    • He does his best to steer Tuco into making less violent decisions, and seems to be rather logical when it comes to dishing out punishments. Although his decision to make deals behind Tuco's back is frankly idiotic.
    • Even then it makes sense for Nacho to try to make more deal of his own, he is working with an unstable boss who kills his employees on a whim; the sooner he is rich the sooner he can get away from Tuco before he does something that get them all killed (i.e. meet Heisenberg). Season 2 confirmed the reason why he wants Tuco out is not out of greed but because Tuco is too unpredictable to work with and almost killed Nacho by accident.
    • He knows Mike is opposing Hector and could be a problem if he reveals the set up they did to get Tuco in jail, however he also knows killing Mike of his own initiative might raises even more suspicion and Mike is too moral to snitch on him.
  • Properly Paranoid: Given his line of work, is it any surprise he sees snitches in the grass? And he's not entirely wrong when he accuses Jimmy of ratting on him. He's just mistaken as to the breed of rat.
  • Psychotic Smirk: It's a very small one. It's enough to make anyone dealing with him (and the viewers) a little bit nervous.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Blue to Tuco's Red, though only by a margin.
  • Saved by Canon: In Season 2 of Breaking Bad, Saul mentions something about "Ignacio" when he thinks he's about to get wasted by the cartel. Unless Jimmy met another shady dude with the same name, Nacho is safe for now, as Season 3 takes place over winter and spring of 2003.
  • Second Episode Introduction: Introduced in the second episode.
  • Sherlock Scan:
    • He easily figured out that Mike was behind the attack on Hector's drug runner, since any other crew would have killed the driver, and Mike is the only criminal he knows of who would try to avoid lethal violence. When Mike insists on knowing about the cops, Nacho takes offense at learning that Mike intended for Hector to end up attracting the attention of the cops, since it also put the screws on him as well.
    • Whether or not there is another player and/or bigger fish on the scene, when Mike plans to snipe Hector dead, Nacho is switched-on enough to "coincidentally" block the shot every damn time. Which means not only being aware of what Mike is doing, but knowing exactly where he placed himself to do it. You don't do either without doing some calculating yourself. Even bringing in a bigger fish (if he has involved Gus as the titling clues suggest) shows dot-joining.
  • Spanner in the Works: Prevents Mike from assassinating Hector Salamanca by standing in his line of fire such that Mike can't shoot Hector without also killing Nacho.
  • The Starscream: A rare example motivated more by pragmatism than egocentricity. Planned on killing Tuco because the latter's meth abuse is making him too unhinged to work with, even though Mike points out Tuco's family would be a problem, Nacho would rather take his chances than dying from Tuco's mood swings. Now Tuco's in prison for longer, Hector is now in the cross-hairs as Hector is even more dangerous due to his superior intelligence to Tuco and being a higher-ranked Salamanca boss in general yet still so petty Nachos could get himself killed as easily during Hector's pissing contest with Gus.
  • Street Smart: Even though he occasionally lets his impatience get away with him, in the main, Nacho is a very bright bunny when it comes to street level dealings. He's very much brighter than the average crook shown on the show, in fact (not hard, given some of the competition). This actually turns out to be an issue: Nacho has trouble working with people who aren't as savvy or when it comes to working away from his usual turf. Combining the two blows up in his face, particularly with the Kettlemans: Nacho thought that because the Kettlemans were fresh, white collar criminals that stealing from them would be a breeze. But his greed and impatience causes him to slip up- his lingering in the ritzy neighborhood makes a neighbor suspicious enough to write down his license plate and call the police who then found fresh blood in the back of his van (from the Lindholms). Even if Jimmy hadn't spooked the Kettlemans into running, Nacho would have been caught anyway shortly afterward with the stolen money and the blood.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Or in some cases, highly competent cartel criminals acting like idiots, for example, Gus is a sociopath who wants petty revenge on Hector, Hector himself is an asshole, Tuco and the twins are monsters, Tyrus and Victor are up their own arse, the dealers are useless and Mike is ... old and world weary. Nacho is an energetic pragmatist surrounded by people who aren't.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • He is making deals behind Tuco's back despite fully knowing what that minefield is capable of when crossed — or, worse, what the cartel could do. He's nowhere in sight by the time Breaking Bad occurs. Meaning he will probably be killed.
    • Season 2, Episode 4: with Tuco in jail and Nacho presumably running his operation now, coupled with Saul's exclamations when Walt and Jesse kidnap him in Breaking Bad, it's seeming more and more likely that Nacho survives through the show.
    • His old policy of only ripping off known, amateur crooks because they have no legal recourse isn't going as planned because they have found under-the-table options for prevention or redress (Jimmy warning the Kettlemans; Mike threatening to sell him out to Tuco if he doesn't give back Daniel's baseball cards). That's the downside to crooks: they might know other, better crooks — even if you don't know they do. Hence, if neither Tuco nor the cartel does him in, picking other, apparently, Stupid Crooks to "safely" rob could backfire much more seriously than getting a relatively cordial Jimmy or Mike to come visit.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: In "Hero". What does he do after being gotten out of jail by Jimmy? Threatens him for ratting him out, of course. Jimmy, having had enough, points out that Nacho isn't as smart as he thinks.

    Krazy- 8 

Domingo Gallardo Molina AKA "Krazy 8"

Portrayed By: Max Arciniega

One of Tuco's street-level dealers.

    El Michoacano manager 


Portrayed by: Jose E. Pintor

The cook and manager of El Michoacano, a restaurant where Tuco's branch of the cartel conducts operations. After Tuco is arrested, he finds himself playing host to Hector Salamanca and Nacho Varga.

    Arturo Colon 

Arturo Colon

Portrayed By: Vincent Fuentes

Muscle for Hector Salamanca.

  • Beard of Evil: He sports a thin beard in addition to his more distinctive hairstyle, and although he isn't overtly evil, he still operates as muscle for Hector.
  • The Brute: He serves as this to Hector, and is used to threaten, initimidate and send warnings. However, while he's no idiot, he isn't as smart or competent as the likes of Nacho, Gaff and Mike.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Gus seals a plastic bag over his head as Victor zip-ties his hands and feet, leaving him to slowly suffocate to death as Gus blackmails Nacho into working for him.
  • Deader Than Dead: Then, just to add insult to injury, his body gets shot up by Victor and Tyrus as part of a gambit to fake an "attack" on him, then burnt by the Cousins to dispose of evidence.
  • Mouth of Sauron: Part of his job, apparently. Hector certainly makes a decent enough Sauron.
  • Just Following Orders: Arturo doesn't seem particularly sadistic or cruel; he just does as he's told, and sometimes he's told to intimidate or hurt people which he does without hesitation but without relish.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: He outright tells Mike he was supposed to scare him after he fails. However, Arturo isn't smart enough to know when not to piss off Gus Fring.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Arturo is fairly threatening in his own right, but he's completely schooled by the much more experienced Mike. He's also fairly small fish when the rest of the pond supports the likes of Gus Fring and the Salamancas.
  • Tempting Fate: After threatening Victor and Tyrus for more out of a deal and seemingly getting away with it, he proudly boasts to Nacho on how they had them "pissing their pants." Cue Gus...
  • Smug Snake: After Hector is hospitalized and Bolsa puts him and Nacho in charge of the Salamanca territory in the U.S he acts like he runs the place and there is nothing to worry about. He even tries to take more than agreed on during his meeting with Los Pollos Hermanos like Hector did.
  • The Stoic: Is a pretty stoic, no-nonsense muscleman for Hector.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Gus kills him to intimidate Nacho.

    Ximenez Lecerda 

Ximenez Lecerda

Portrayed By: Manuel Uriza

A drug mule for the Cartel who smuggles drugs and cash through border crossings in a Regalo Helado ice cream truck.

  • All There in the Manual: His full name is revealed in casting information, but not in the show itself (though his first name is mentioned in the opening flashback of Sabrosito).
  • Boom, Headshot!: Shot in the head by the Cousins and buried in an unmarked grave.
  • Butt-Monkey: Is wrecked, beaten up, and completely humiliated by Mike. Then shot in the head by the Cousins.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: The Regalo Helado popsicles he transports along with the money.
  • Trapped in Villainy: He came with the store Hector bought, it's clear he had no choice in the matter.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Hector no longer trusts him after Mike hits his truck.

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