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Gustavo, cheer up, man. Gustavo, I'm not angry. I had to spank you. But what choice did I have? Look, once every 20 years you forget your place. There's no place for emotion in this. You of all people should understand. Business is business.
― Eladio's humiliating advice to Gustavo Fring.[src]

Eladio Vuente, commonly known as Don Eladio, is the boss of the Cartel, a Mexican drug cartel that employs Juan Bolsa, Hector Salamanca, and Salamanca's nephews (Tuco, Marco, Leonel, Lalo, and Joaquin).


Warning, the following may contain spoilers.
He first met Gustavo Fring in 1989, when Gus and his partner Max Arciniega proposed producing methamphetamine for the cartel. Unimpressed by their pitch, Eladio declined because the cartel preferred to continue distributing cocaine. After the meeting, Eladio had Hector execute Max as retaliation for manipulating him into a meeting, but spared Gus's life due to an unrevealed but powerful connection to Chile. He then forced Gus to work with the cartel under Eladio's terms, and Gus became the cartel's chief distributor in the American Southwest.


Following the deaths of Juan Bolsa and the Cousins, and Gus's subsequent establishment of the meth superlab, Eladio orders retribution through his henchman Gaff, who hijacks meth deliveries and kills some of Gus's operatives. Gus agrees to Eladio's demands—the formula for the blue meth, the services of a chemist, and a 50% share of the business—and travels to the cartel's superlab with Mike Ehrmantraut and Jesse Pinkman. After Jesse cooks a successful batch, Eladio invites them to a party at his villa attended by multiple capos, who toast their new business venture with a bottle of premium tequila supplied by Gus. Eladio chides Gus as someone who provides value to the organization, but periodically needs to be reminded of his place. The capos begin to collapse shortly after the toast, victims of the poison Gus put in the tequila. Eladio realizes that Gus, who vomited up some of the poisoned tequila soon after the toast, has betrayed him, but collapses dead into the swimming pool before he can take any action.

History

Background information

Image of Don Eladio in the DEA files.

Little is known of Don Eladio's past. He was one of the founding members of the Cartel alongside Juan Bolsa and Hector Salamanca and became the leader of the operation.

In 1989, Don Eladio met with Gustavo Fring and his partner Maximino Arciniega attempted to propose a business deal wherein they would produce methamphetamine for the cartel, which Eladio would then distribute. Eladio graciously complimented them on their chicken recipe and the conversation was civil for a time.

However, Don Eladio was unimpressed by their pitch, and had Max executed by Hector Salamanca for manipulating him into a meeting. However, he only spared Gus's life due to his currently unrevealed past in Chile. As Don Eladio and his men forced Gus to watch as the blood dripped into the pool, Hector warned him to keep his business restricted to chicken. ("Hermanos")

At some time in the ensuing few years, he entered into a partnership with Gus, who served as Don Eladio's chief distributor in the American Southwest.

Better Call Saul

Season 3

In a flashback to 1999, Don Eladio is shown to have a cruel taunting sense of humor when dealing with his immediate subordinates and shows bias in favour of Gus when he brings a much better stash of cash than Hector, much to the latter's badly concealed fury. He ultimately decides the cartel will use Gus' vehicles across the border as opposed to Hector's. ("Sabrosito")

Season 5

Lalo Salamanca takes Nacho Varga to meet with Don Eladio at his home in Mexico, giving the cartel leader a car as a gift. Don Eladio is surprised to learn that Nacho is a friend of Tuco, humorously asking if Nacho is alright in the head. Don Eladio and Nacho discuss Nacho's plans for the cartel's business in Albuquerque and Nacho admits that he wants to be his own boss and not to have to look over his shoulder all the time. Though Don Eladio points out that he's in the wrong business for that, he respects and likes Nacho and his plans. ("Something Unforgivable")

Season 6

The following day, it is revealed to Eladio that Nacho was working against the Cartel with an unknown individual, which seemingly lead to Lalo being killed in an assassination. Angered at this, Eladio put a price on Nacho's head, which lead to him being pursued by all Cartel members, including Marco and Leonel Salamanca. In reality, however, Lalo faked his death using a body double, something no one but Hector, Gus and Mike are aware of. Said "unknown individual" also happens to be Gus, who wants Lalo dead for messing with his business. ("Wine and Roses")

In an Albuquerque sewer, Lalo recorded a video message for Eladio, revealing what he's learned from Casper: Gus had used Werner Ziegler to build the "mother of all meth labs" beneath the laundry. Lalo intends to storm the laundry that and kill all of Gus's guards, then he can present proof for Eladio that any cover story put forth by Gus will not refute. ("Plan and Execution")

Breaking Bad

Season 4

Don Eladio's cartel and Gus Fring's meth network suddenly clashed. The situation escalated as Don Eladio ordered his men to hijack several of Gus's Los Pollos Hermanos trucks, in which bags of meth were stored in certain fry batter tubs. ("Bullet Points") It isn't made clear whether or not Eladio knows of Gus' role in the elimination of Tuco's cousins.

Finally, Eladio sent Gaff to meet with Gus on the Los Pollos Hermanos Factory Farm with an ultimatum: Give up the formula of the product Gus is selling, the pure "Blue Sky" meth. Gus at first rejected, but Gaff started to harass his business, including using a sniper to kill one of Gus's henchman and ultimately forcing him to accept the offer. ("Bug")

Gus and Don Eladio.

Gus, Mike Ehrmantraut, and Jesse flew to Mexico to have Jesse cook the signature blue meth for the Cartel's superlab, run by Benicio Fuentes. After Jesse successfully cooks a very pure batch on his own for the Cartel, Don Eladio brings them to his house and his capos celebrate at the same place Max Arciniega, Gus' former business partner, was killed. As a token of respect for the renewed business relationship, Gus brings Don Eladio a gift of incredibly fine tequila Zafiro Añejo, which the entire cartel drinks after Gus takes the first shot. It is actually poisoned; after Gus is escorted by Eladio's bodyguard Miguel to the bathroom, he forces himself to regurgitate the drink (he had already taken a capsule to prevent the major effects of the poison, once arriving at Don Eladio's place).

Don Eladio wishes Gus "salud".

Outside by the pool, Don Eladio witnesses Benicio and at least nine capos/enforcers dropping dead, and he himself is suffering from the effects of the poison. Gaff is garroted by Mike as the butlers and girls start fleeing in panic. Gus steps over Miguel's corpse and stands before Don Eladio, who tries in vain to attack Gus but the poison weakens him so much his legs give way and he collapses into the pool, unconscious, and drowns. Mike then takes Don Eladio's nazar necklace from his corpse and, after Jesse kills Don Eladio's last henchman, the three manage to escape the hacienda. ("Salud")

Eladio's body floating in the pool.

Gus and Jesse go to Casa Tranquila where they visit Hector, whom Gus frequently harasses and taunts about the deaths of members of his family and friends from the cartel, owing to the fact that it was Hector who, on Don Eladio's orders, shot Gus' partner Max twenty years ago. During the meeting between the two enemies, Gus puts Don Eladio's necklace in Hector' pocket and lets him know of the deaths of Don Eladio, all the cartel capos and Hector's grandson Joaquin, who turned out to be the last henchman whom Jesse killed during their escape from Don Eladio's hacienda. After introducing Hector's grandson's killer to Hector, both men leave Hector, who cries in anger and is devastated as all of his friends and relatives are dead and he is completely alone and helpless. ("Crawl Space")

Don Eladio's death, as well as the deaths of all his Cartel allies, would ultimately be avenged by his ally Hector who, with the aid of Walter White, kills Gus by suicide bombing him after luring him into a trap, leading to the destruction of his own drug empire as well. ("Face Off")

Season 5

A photo of Don Eladio is shown on the DEA evidence board mapping Gus's drug empire. On his card, the DEA wrote that he had a "suspected connection to Fring operation, possibly related to recent violence in New Mexico."

When Hank Schrader is going through evidence that related to Heisenberg after he becomes suspicious of his brother-in-law, Hank pulls out a photo of Don Eladio out of one of the boxes. ("Blood Money")

Personality and traits

"You. Businessman. Why should I negotiate with someone who doesn't respect me? Who insults me by dealing under my nose without my permission? Who manipulates me into a meeting in front of my own men? What do I need you for?"
―Eladio during his meeting with Gustavo Fring and Max Arciniega

Eladio Vuente was charismatic, but also displayed narcissistic and sociopathic traits. He seemed to be a blend of his two closest associates, sharing Juan Bolsa's intelligence, greediness, and opportunism; and Hector Salamanca's wrath and brutality. A natural-born leader, Eladio is an expert talker and manipulator, subtly setting his lieutenants against one another to prevent any of them from forming an alliance or taking over. His favorite method to keep hold of the Cartel so far is to require each of his lieutenants to bring a monetary tribute to him, favoring the one who brings him the most money and demeaning all the others. Thus, Eladio was very controlling, and impeding in his affairs, even for the good of both parties, was by far the worst way to offend him.

Eladio generally appears friendly to his underlings and associates but also feigns courtesy towards anyone who betrayed or provoked him in any way before suddenly turning angry and ordering one of his men to murder his offender, if not worse. Thus, Eladio is very unpredictable, which forces his associates, including his closest ones, to remain on edge at all times around him, fearing to earn Eladio's wrath without even knowing it. Eladio was also merciless, only sparing Gustavo Fring due to his mysterious history.

Eladio displayed some sadism when ordering Hector to kill Max Arciniega, smiling heavily at Gus' despair. Also, Eladio often belittles, if not outright bullies associates, going as far as to mock Hector in his face. He's also very intimidating towards his minions and threatens to cut the hand of the man serving Gus' tequila if he even drops one spill of it on the ground.

Besides handling the Cartel's affairs and manipulating his associates, Eladio remains most of his time at his villa, enjoying swimming and partying with his men and escorts. Eladio also greatly enjoys showmanship in the forms of unusual gifts, as long as they are of value, such as Lalo Salamanca's car, with another tribute in the trunk.

Despite his cruel and controlling persona, Eladio displayed some standards at times. He chastises his cook chief, a diplomate chemist, for his poor performance compared to Jesse Pinkman and seems to be disturbed by Tuco Salamanca, asking Nacho Varga if he's okay in the head once he realises they once worked together.

Murders connected to Eladio

  • Max Arciniega: Shot once in the head by Hector Salamanca on Don Eladio's orders. ("Hermanos")
  • Los Pollos driver #1: Shot to death by two unnamed assassins. ("Bullet Points")
  • Los Pollos driver #2: Shot to death by Gaff and two unnamed assassins. ("Cornered")
  • Two Los Pollos guards: Suffocated by exhaust by Gaff and two unnamed assassins. ("Cornered")
  • Nick: Shot with a sniper rifle by Gaff. ("Bug")

Deaths connected to Eladio

  • Nacho Varga: After being made aware that Nacho was involved in the assassination attempt against Lalo, Eladio put a price on Nacho's head, which lead to him being pursued by all Cartel members. This ultimately resulted in Nacho committing suicide so he could go out on his own terms. ("Rock and Hard Place")

Appearances

Breaking Bad

Episodes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5A
Season 5B

Better Call Saul

Episodes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5
Season 6

Trivia

  • Don Eladio is played by Steven Bauer who is well known for playing Manny Ribera in Scarface.
  • The traditional Greek amulet he wears — a ward against the evil eye — earned him the nickname El Griego Guiñador, "The Winking Greek."
  • Don Eladio is one of the few characters in Breaking Bad who never meets Walter White.

Quotes

"Gustavo, cheer up, man. Gustavo, I'm not angry. I had to spank you. But what choice did I have? Look, once every 20 years you forget your place. There's no place for emotion in this. You of all people should understand. Business is business."
―Eladio's humiliating advice to Gustavo Fring.[src]

"You. Businessman. Why should I negotiate with someone who doesn't respect me? Who insults me by dealing under my nose without my permission? Who manipulates me into a meeting in front of my own men? What do I need you for?"
―Eladio during his meeting with Gus and Max.[src]

"Listen to me. The only reason you are alive and he is not...is because I know who you are. But understand. You are not in Chile anymore."
―Eladio to Gus after having Max killed.[src]

"You!?"
―Eladio's last words.[src]
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