Don Eladio Vuente
Portrayed By: Steven Bauer
The absolute head of the Juarez Cartel and Gus's main competitor for control of the Southwest drug trade.
- Arc Villain: In Season 4. Up until then, Eladio had been an unseen Greater-Scope Villain who was represented by other members of the cartel, most notably the Salamancas and Juan Bolsa. This changes when he begins organizing moves against Gus' operation. Although he's dangerous enough to be one of the main antagonists of the season, his role in the story remains largely detached from the central conflict between Gus and Walt. As soon as he and the cartel have been dealt with for good, the focus shifts back to the main story.
- Arch-Enemy: To Gus Fring, given that he ordered the murder of his beloved partner, Max Arciniega. He shares this position with Hector Salamanca who killed Max with visible relish on Eladio's orders.
- A Man Of Wealth And Taste: As befits the head of a drug cartel, Eladio enjoys the finer things in life: an enormous home, ridiculously expensive tequila, cigars and gorgeous women.
- Asshole Victim: He is poisoned by Gus along with all of his capos. He had it coming after having killed Gus' partner decades ago.
- Big Bad Ensemble: With Gus in season 4. After the departure of Tuco, the Cousins and Juan Bolsa, it is his cartel that causes problems for Gus during the season, and his tensions with Gus solidify again.
- The Cameo: Steven Bauer isn't terribly famous, but it counts since creator Vince Gilligan has often referred to the show as taking Walter from being a teacher to becoming Scarface.
- Death by Cameo: In his second episode.
- Disc-One Final Boss: Of Season 4. Don Eladio and his cartel are built up as a major threat (big enough to rival Gus even), but they are taken out of the game before they have a chance to reap the spoils of their efforts, leaving Gus as the remaining villain.
- The Don: He's the absolute leader of the cartel.
- Dramatic Necklace Removal: Gus has Mike rip off Eladio's necklace when he falls in the pool, so he can later taunt Hector with it.
- The Dreaded: Just about everyone is terrified of Eladio, and for good reason. Gus and Max are understandably intimidated, and even long after Gus has become a feared kingpin in his own right, he still approaches Eladio with extreme caution. Bolsa warns Hector Salamanca about disrespecting him, and while Hector is the most likely to be insubordinate, he's never seen being a jerk to Eladio's face.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Arguably of the more sudden unexpected variety than in an awkward way.
- Evil Versus Evil: His conflict with Gus can be summed up as this. When they first met, Gus was no innocent angel, since he was trying to get into the cartel and flood the country with drugs to enhance his wealth. Eladio, however, is much more brutal and unreasonable, although they're both equally unreasonable. On the whole, the much more pragmatic and cautious Gus is likely better to have as a drug kingpin than Eladio, but not by much.
- Expy: While portrayed by the same actor who played the amoral but otherwise likable Manny Ribera in Scarface, Eladio is far more similar to Alejandro Sosa, the Big Bad of the same film. Both are tyrannical drug lords who actively cultivate the image of being refined and charming businessmen despite having no qualms with committing barbaric atrocities to consolidate their power. Additionally, both characters introduce themselves under the pretext of showing polite interest in a business proposition from one of the story's major characters, only to leave him with a menacing ultimatum by having his associate killed before his eyes. They even both retain Mark Margolis as hitmen/enforcers.
- Faux Affably Evil: When first introduced, he initially appears to be very gregarious and benevolent (particularly when compared to his menacing and surly right-hand man, Hector Salamanca). However, this is ultimately revealed to be a mask for a personality that is cold, calculating, and sadistic in reality.
- Greater-Scope Villain: As the undisputed leader of the Juarez Cartel, he presides over a massive criminal empire that comprises most of the series' major antagonists, including Tuco, the Salamanca Twins, and Juan Bolsa. However, he never directly acts against Walt and the two don't even meet or talk; instead, it's Gus Fring and the other mentioned characters that cause trouble for Walt.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: He gives Benicio Fuentes, the wannabe chemist, a thorough put down, pointing out that Jesse could cook way better meth than him despite his lack of college degrees.
- Lack of Empathy: In "Salud", Gus Fring's murder of three of his most loyal subordinates hardly seems to faze him, given that he immediately throws a party for Gus after being sufficiently convinced of his unconditional submission. Similarly, during the party, he offhandedly threatens a servant pouring him a shot of rare tequila with amputation if he spills "even one drop" (with a festive smile on his face, no less). Later while speaking with Gus, he coldly "advises" him to let go of any personal grudges he has (including the cartel's murder of his beloved partner) and submit to his authority for the sake of "good business."''"Gustavo, cheer up, man. Gustavo, I'm not angry. I had to spank you. But what choice did I have? Look, once every twenty years you forget your place. There's no place for emotion in this. You of all people should understand. Business is business."
- Large and in Charge: He towers over nearly all of his subordinates at 6'2".
- Man Behind the Man: To Juan Bolsa, the Salamanca family and Gaff given that all their actions are made pursuant to direct orders from the cartel's leadership.
- Pet the Dog: When told that Jesse is a recovering addict, he refuses to let him have a drink. However, this could very well be because Eladio didn't want Pinkman (who was his presumptive new cook at the time) to develop any habits that might impede his cooking.
- Properly Paranoid: Before he even opens Gus' "gift" he looks at Gaff to make sure the case is safe to open. He then makes Gus take the first shot of the rare tequila, in case if it was poisoned. It was. Gus drank it anyway. (Earlier, he's seen taking some pills that likely slowed or dulled the poisons working, and when he uses Eladio's bathroom later, he induces himself to vomit, thus preventing the poison from running its course.) And finally, when Gus is going to leave his sight, he has his bodyguard go with Gus to keep an eye on him. Eladio really didn't trust Gus and was trying to be careful not to give Gus any opening to use against him. He was right to be paranoid, he just wasn't quite paranoid enough.
- Smug Snake: Despite being one of the most powerful villains in the series by far, his underestimation of Gus proves to be his undoing.
- The Sociopath: He doesn't seem to understand why Gus might hold a lasting grudge against him for murdering his closest friend right in front of him, since Eladio himself views people as tools who can be dismissed or forgotten about on a whim. He considers his own lack of emotion a benefit, as he tells Gus, "There's no place for emotion in this. You of all people should understand. Business is business."
- Taking You with Me: After realizing that Gus has poisoned him, this is clearly the last thought that crosses his mind judging by his Death Glare and lunge in Gus' direction. However, he succumbs to the poison before he can bring this desire about.
Portrayed By: Javier Grajeda
A high-level member of the Juárez drug cartel. He is also the cartel's liaison with Gustavo Fring.
- Asshole Victim: His assassination is orchestrated by Gus. Given how much of a ruthless Smug Snake he was, he had it coming. This is even more emphasised in retrospect, as he was a part of the murder of Gus' partner Max.
- Ax-Crazy: A very subtle example. Despite the fact that he's calm and collected, he has the Cousins decapitate a DEA informant, strews his body parts around the desert as a warning, and mounts his decapitated head on a turtle. Then he sends the turtle at Mexican Federal Police with a bomb strapped to it.
- Bald of Evil: He's bald and a ruthless member of the cartel.
- Cop Killer: By proxy, willing to blow up several DEA members using Tortuga's severed head on a turtle for a touch of Black Comedy. Of course, killing a DEA agent and being connected to an assassination attempt on another makes the U.S. government extremely mad and makes the Mexican government mark him as particularly dangerous. He and his bodyguards end up getting tracked down by the Mexican Federal Police (with some help from Gus) and gunned down with submachine guns without being given a chance to surrender (to be fair to the cops, the cartel guys all had guns, including Bolsa).
- Et Tu, Brute?: Bolsa, other than his participation in Max's murder, has been nothing but an ally to Gus. He secretly backs Gus during the latter's power struggle against the Salamancas, even going as far as sending his men to make sure Lalo stays in prison. In exchange for all this, Gus betrays and kills him anyway.
- Faux Affably Evil: In his first few appearances, Bolsa appears to be the most reasonable member of the cartel. He's polite, genial, understanding and calmly professional. Most of the time, he comes across as a pretty nice guy. Next thing you know, your head is stuffed with explosives and traveling on the back of a turtle. Then again Tortuga was a cowardly rat.
- Greater-Scope Villain: In season 3. He doesn't actively participate in the revenge against Walt and Hank, and doesn't even care, but being Don Eladio's lieutenant and a high-ranking member of the Juárez Cartel, his influence is much more prominent, with the Cousins being just enforcers working for the cartel. In contrast to the Cousins, Juan's recourses are so superior that he even mentions that his brother is a police chief, suggesting vast influence.
- Karmic Death: He's killed through the machinations of Gus, who he wronged many years before along with Tio Salamanca and Don Eladio.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Tortuga and the El Paso cops were not exactly the nicest people for Hank to work with.
- Mouth of Sauron: He generally acts as a representative of the Cartel's leadership to Gus in Season 3.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Attempts this when the Federal Police come knocking on his door, boasting that his friend is the chief of police so he'll be out of jail in no time. The cops simply gun him down instead.
- Shout-Out: His name translates to "John Bag/Sack", a reference to John "Johnny Sack" Sacrimoni from The Sopranos.
- Smug Snake: It's played subtly but he is entirely confident that he's smarter than Gus. Simply put, he isn't, and is proven wrong in a spectacular badass fashion.
- Switch to English: When he speaks with Gus over the phone, he speaks English (which they are both fluent in).
- Villainous Breakdown: After the Salamanca twins are killed due to Gus' machinations, Bolsa shows a great deal more anger and drops his facade. He accuses Gus outright and correctly of being behind the Cartel's recent troubles. His breakdown doesn't last very long, as he's swiftly gunned down.
The Cartel Dons (Paco, Cesar, Renaldo, Artuno, Cisco, Luis, Escalada)
The capos of the Juarez Cartel, all subordinate to Don Eladio. They all partake in the celebrations at Eladio's party, and all of them end up dying by way of Gus's posioned tequila as revenge against the cartel.
- Affably Evil: Two of the capos share a jovial laugh when they see Jesse start to relax at Eladio's party.
- Asshole Victim: Every last one of them are powerful drug lords, so while the specifics are unknown, they're likely not saints.
- Bald of Evil: Two of them.
- Beard of Evil: Several of them have one.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Despite being powerful cartel members, they're wiped out all at once by Gus's poison.
- Fat Bastard: Some of them.
- Man of Wealth and Taste: Like Don Eladio.
- Minor Major Character: While they're clearly the most powerful members of the cartel along with Eladio and all but two of them are given names, they appear onscreen for 10 minutes at most before dying.
Portrayed By: Maurice Compte
The chief buttonman and deliverer of important messages in the Juárez Cartel's New Mexico territory. By the time of his appearance, he was recently promoted by the Dons of the cartel, replacing Tuco Salamanca's role of informing the cartel about the activity across the border after the latter's death.
- Badass Beard: Has a beard of evil, and is a major thorn in Gus' side as well as a skillful sniper.
- Brutal Honesty: Tells Gus bluntly, "This is not a negotiation".
- Beard of Evil: Has a beard and is evil.
- Cold Sniper: He's a skilled but ruthless sniper, willing to suffocate a whole crew of men in Gus's refrigeration trucks to make a point.
- The Dragon: He serves as this to Don Eladio, being his chief assassin.
- Elite Mook: After Tuco's death, Gaff was promoted to his position.
- Evil Counterpart: He's the Cartel's answer to Mike; both are intelligent, loyal, dangerous and can be relied upon for their ruthless efficiency. When it comes down to it, though, Gaff just can't measure up to Mike Ehrmantraut.
- Fake Nationality: Maurice Compte, the actor that portrays him, is Cuban-American, whereas Gaff is Romanian-American.
- Jerkass: He doesn't show Gus much respect during the meetings, and clearly resents not being able to just outright kill him. He's also arrogant enough to be surprised by their being a lot of guns due to Mike's planning.
- Mouth of Sauron: Speaks on behalf of Eladio during his conflict with Gus in Season 4.
- Professional Killer: Part of his job working for the Cartel.
- Razor Floss: Mike strangles him to death with a wire while he's distracted by the Cartel bosses dying from Gus's poison.
- Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: Romanian-American in ethnicity and uses more ruthless tactics than German-American Mike Ehrmantraut such as the use of the exhaust fumes to wipe out one of Gus's truck crews or picking apart Gus' goons to get Gus' response.
- The Stoic: He largely comes across as bored, not showing much in the way of reaction even when dying.
- You Are in Command Now: Gaff replaces Tuco as the cartel's eyes and ears across the border.
Portrayed By: Carlo Rota
The lead meth chemist for the cartel.
- All There in the Script: His full name isn't stated in the episode.
- Asshole Victim: He dies alongside his cartel colleagues as a result of Gus' poison.
- Bald of Evil: Fuentes is bald and an immense asshole.
- Beard of Evil: He has a little goatee.
- Evil Genius: He ought to be this, since he's the cartel's lead meth chemist, but as a chemist he doesn't match up to Jesse.Fuentes: ...he's no chemist, I'll tell you that.Don Eladio: I don't care if he's a pig farmer. He cooks better meth than you do, with all your fancy college degrees.
- Insufferable Genius: Emphasis on the insufferable over the 'genius'. He's grievously offended when Jesse arrives on the scene.Jesse: Don't you have standards? I mean, this place is disgusting. All right, we're gonna scour every vat, every tank, every cook surface. We clean up every possible source of contamination. And then we cook.Fuentes: Who do you think you are?Jesse: I'm the guy your boss brought here to show you how it's done. And if this is how you run your lab, no wonder. You're lucky he hasn't fired your ass. Now, if you don't want that to happen I suggest you stop whining like a little bitch, and do what I say.
- Jerkass: Fuentes is abrasive and arrogant from the get-go.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Fuentes is clearly Spanish, but when speaking English, he talks in Rota's native English (as in, he was born in England) accent. Note that this can be a case of Truth in Television, since some people do learn to speak English without their native accent. (Other times people may take on the accent of the person who is teaching them a non-native language.)
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: He gets two of these. One from Jesse when Fuentes insults both his poor understanding of Spanish (and he subtly insults Gus when asking if Jesse as chemist was a joke) and his lack of basic chemistry knowledge. He gets a second one from his own boss later on, who says that even with Fuentes's college degrees, Jesse still cooks better meth.Jesse: Tell this asshole if he wants to make my product, he's got to do it my way. The right way.
Fuentes: I speak English.
Jesse: So you understand what asshole means. Now go get me my phenylacetic acid, asshole.
- Small Name, Big Ego: He's so arrogant that you get the feeling he still would've acted the same way had Walt or Gale been there instead of Jesse (though Walt or Gale would at least have been able to make phenylacetic acid).
- Smug Snake: He thinks he's a lot better of a chemist than he actually is.
Portrayed By: Danny Trejo
The DEA's informant on the Mexican Cartel. He is beheaded, his head is put on a tortoise, and the head is rigged with bombs, blowing up all of the DEA members who are sent to meet him except for Hank.
- Asshole Victim: What Bolsa does to him is pretty horrific, but considering what an arrogant jerk he was, it's hard not to say his deeds didn't catch up with him.
- Cigar Chomper: He enjoys puffing on a cigar in his appearances.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: After boldly boasting to Hank that his name Tortuga means "turtle", he is then beheaded with his head placed on the back of a tortoise for the delight of the DEA. Hank's reaction to this is what saves his life, or at least his limbs.
- Decapitation Presentation: After the Cousins hack off his head, they stuff it with explosives and place it on a tortoise, and then sends it to the DEA's meeting place with a message: Hola DEA.
- Death by Cameo: Trejo's not exactly Harrison Ford or anything, but he's a beloved and recognizable cult actor. He was also a bigger name than most of the lead actors at the time and was listed as a special guest star. His run on the show lasts all of two scenes and one Early-Bird Cameo in the "Negro y Azul" video, not including time spent as a severed head.
- Death by Irony:
- Deliberately invoked by Juan Bolsa and the Cousins. They place his severed head on a tortoise (which was given as a "gift" to Tortuga in the first place); and to add (additional) insult-to-injury, Juan writes "Hola DEA" on the tortoise, and uses it as a weapon against the same organization that Tortuga had tattled to.
- On a meta-note, it's probably not coincidental that a character played by Danny Trejo was killed with a machete.
- The Informant: He's a high-ranking member of the Juarez Cartel (high enough to report directly to Bolsa at least) and has turned informant for the DEA.
- Jerkass: He lounges around in his motel room, ordering crass personal items listed on SkyMall via DEA agents who have to toady to him. He's not even Nice to the Waiter, treating his bartender disdainfully.
- Meaningful Name: Tortuga likes to remind people of his name's meaning and what he takes from it. His name means "tortoise" in Spanish, which he claims is reflective of his way of getting things done — slow, but successful. Appropriately, when he's killed by the Cousins on Bolsa's orders, they deliver his head to the DEA on the back of a tortoise.
- Off with His Head!: On Bolsa's orders, the Cousins cut his head off with a machete.
- Oh, Crap!: The second he sees what Bolsa has written on the tortoise, his expression drops and he goes for his gun. By that point, he's way too late to save himself.
- The Rat: Within the Cartel, informing for the DEA.
- Smug Snake: Tortuga is suicidally confident of his own abilities. He thinks he can outwit the Cartel while keeping the DEA virtually begging him for scraps of information, all while living the high life and bragging about himself. His arrogance gets him violently beheaded.
- Too Dumb to Live: After blabbing to the DEA as a paid informant, Tortuga decides to go drink at a shady Bad-Guy Bar in the middle of Mexico, and treats Bolsa dropping in unannounced (while saying "I knew I'd find you here") as a pleasant surprise; even when Juan repeatedly complements him for how "quick" he is with words, the guy never puts it together. He's naturally a little wary when Bolsa says he's got a belated birthday gift for him in the back of the bar, but is easily lured into a false sense of security again when he receives a pet turtle. By the time he finally learns that his boss wants to execute him for his treachery and he tries to pull his gun, it's too late, and the Cousins are hacking off his head.