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I'll weather this, I always do. My brother's a police chief, I got connections, they'll get me through. And when I get proof, and the others find out what you've done? Maybe we come pay you a visit, maybe we com-
― An all too late Bolsa figures out the truth about Gustavo Fring.[src]

Don Juan Bolsa is a high-ranking member and the co-founder of the Cartel to which the Salamanca family and Gustavo Fring belong. He generally acts as the voice of the cartel to mediate issues between the Salamancas and Gus because he wants to make sure both earn profits for the cartel. Bolsa sometimes secretly works with one side or the other for his own benefit.


Warning, the following may contain spoilers.

When Mike Ehrmantraut secretly disrupts the Salamanca's trucking route for smuggling drugs from Mexico, Bolsa orders that Salamanca drugs will be transported by Gus's trucks, a result Gus worked with Mike to produce because it gave Gus more power over the Salamancas. Bolsa intercedes when Gus provides a false story about Werner Ziegler's activities and death, telling Lalo Salamanca Gus enjoys Don Eladio's trust, so Lalo should consider the matter closed. Similarly, when Lalo is seeking to arrange for Jimmy McGill to pick up his bail money, Bolsa discreetly arranges for a squad of gunmen to attack Jimmy, believing that keeping Lalo in prison is in Gus's best interests but unaware that Gus had his own plans.

In 2008, Bolsa ordered Tortuga's execution by The Cousins and later places his head on a booby-trapped tortoise for the DEA to find. He also became the cartel's liaison with Gus, and the one who arranges a meeting among Gus, Leonel and Marco Salamanca, and Hector to determine how to handle Walter White following Tuco's death. Bolsa tells Gus he will urge the Salamanca family to be patient but advises that Gus risks losing favor with the cartel if he does not finish his business with Walter quickly. He goes on to say that he cannot guarantee Leonel and Marco will listen to reason and leave Walter alive until his business with Gus is done. He has forbidden Leonel and Marco to kill Hank in retaliation for Hank's killing of Tuco because killing law enforcement officers will bring on more police scrutiny. Gus secretly sanctions an attack on Hank instead of Walter, resulting in severe injuries to Hank and the deaths of Leonel and Marco. Bolsa meets his end when Gus secretly tips off Mexican federales, who kill Bolsa as retaliation for Leonel and Marco's attack on Hank.

History[]

Background information[]

Bolsa was one of the founding members of the cartel and a close ally to Don Eladio and Hector Salamanca. His brother is a police chief.

Bolsa was present the day Gus and his partner, Max Arciniega, made an attempt to get in contact with the Cartel by selling their drugs to cartel members without Don Eladio's consent. The two were called to meet Bolsa, Hector, and Don Eladio. Gus and Max try to convince them that their product is nothing like anything they ever sold, it is chemically superior. Juan Bolsa and Hector make fun of them, and Don Eladio orders Tio to kill Max as punishment for Gus' disrespectful actions.

Bolsa and Hector hold Gus down, forcing him to look in the eyes of his deceased partner, while Don Eladio taunted Gus, telling him to stay away from the Cartel. ("Hermanos")

Better Call Saul[]

Season 3[]

Hector and Gus meet at a remote location, flanked by their respective henchmen. Over a speaker phone, Hector communicates with Juan Bolsa, who tells him that Don Eladio is satisfied with the new "consolidated transportation method" of shipping drugs over the border, and wants the practice to continue using Gus's Los Pollos distribution network exclusively. Hector angrily smashes the phone, wanting to have his own distribution method instead of Gustavo's. Hector's heart problems act up, leading him to open the vial containing Nacho's spiked pills. However, the pills have no apparent effect, and Hector curses Eladio, Bolsa, and Gus before leaving. ("Fall")

A cartel meeting occurs at Hector's warehouse in Albuquerque with Gus and Juan Bolsa, unbeknownst to them Nacho Varga is planning on killing Hector on the spot. Bolsa informs Hector that Don Eladio is reinforcing his orders regarding Gus' operations. Hector grows enraged the Don's orders and starts screaming at Bolsa and Gus that the Salamancas have worked hard for the cartel, they lost blood for the cartel, they invested money in the cartel and even then they are treated like dogs. Hector starts having another attack in his infuriated state, he suffers great pain when he tries to take his medication - Nacho's spiked pills finally kick in. Hector suffers an apparent heart attack and collapses to the floor, Gus rushes in and performs CPR as Juan Bolsa flees. Hector survives and is taken to a hospital by ambulance while Gus rightly suspects Nacho's involvement. ("Lantern")

Season 4[]

Immediately after Hector is driven away in an ambulance, Nacho is left standing in the lot of the upholstery shop with Gus. As Gus makes a call on his cell phone to Juan Bolsa, Nacho sees a broken sewer grate on the ground and moves to covertly drop his vial of tainted pills into it. However, he has to abort when Gus ends the call and tells him that Bolsa wants a word. At the Los Pollos Hermanos chicken farm, Bolsa tells Nacho and Arturo that the Salamancas will keep their territory despite Hector's apparent stroke and instructs the pair to continue working as before. After Nacho and Arturo are dismissed, Bolsa confers with Gus, who believes that someone will make a move on the Salamancas that will trigger a drug war and draw in the DEA. ("Smoke")

Following the staged attack on Nacho, Gus gets a call from Juan Bolsa informing him of the attack on Arturo and Nacho. Noting the similarities to two prior hits on Hector's trucks (both of which were actually Mike's doing), Gus and Bolsa agree to run dummy loads over the border until the culprits are identified. When Gus tells him that no more than a week's supply of product is left, Bolsa orders him to go ignore edicts from Don Eladio and find a supplier north of the border. ("Something Beautiful")

Season 5[]

Lalo drives to the chicken farm to have a sit-down with Gus and Juan Bolsa over altered cocaine that he discovered and Werner Ziegler. Gus falsely admits that he secretly replaced some of the cartel's cocaine with methamphetamine after Werner stumbled upon Gus's drug business and stole the product. When Lalo demands to know what "construction project" Werner was working on, Gus shows him and Bolsa a massive structure being built by Werner's men for an industrial chiller. Lalo is introduced to Mike, who is supervising the crew. With Lalo seemingly mollified, Bolsa tells Gus that Eladio is not pleased with the breach and warns him not to keep secrets from the cartel again.

Outside the chicken farm, Bolsa confronts Lalo for spying on Gus's operation and murdering the TravelWire employee. Lalo replies that he is simply looking after the interests of his uncle Hector, who believes that Gus is holding a grudge against the cartel after Hector executed his boyfriend. Bolsa insists that Gus is solely concerned with business, to which Lalo expresses skepticism due to an unspecified past incident in Santiago. Bolsa says that Gus will never be "one of us" but that he's a good earner who keeps Eladio happy, which is all that matters. Lalo tells Bolsa that he has no further issues with Gus. ("Magic Man")

After Jimmy McGill is ambushed in the desert while bringing $7 million to grant Lalo bail and after Mike discovers the tattoo Tiburón and the gang he was apart of had, Gus realizes that Juan Bolsa hired them. Gus calls Bolsa who is pleased that Gus can get back to business as usual, noting the recent string of "bad luck" he has suffered. Gus explains to Mike Ehrmantraut that Bolsa had hired the gang to protect his own interests by protecting Gus' interests. ("Bad Choice Road")

Bolsa is reporting to Don Eladio when Lalo brings Nacho Varga to meet the cartel leader. Though he stands silently by, Bolsa doesn't seem particularly pleased by the situation. ("Something Unforgivable")

Season 6[]

Following Nacho's assassination attempt on Lalo at his house, Bolsa calls Gus to inform him of the news, telling him Lalo is dead and Don Eladio has put a price on Nacho's head. ("Wine and Roses") In order to ensure peace between Gus and the Salamancas during this tense period, he and Bolsa both go visit Hector at Casa Tranquila, with Bolsa going over the situation and pleading with Hector to work in collaboration with Gus in order to resolve the issue; Hector shakes Gus's hand, but the latter takes note of his smile and realizes Lalo is still alive. While looking for Nacho, Bolsa has his men search his house, finding a decoy safe planted by Mike containing his fake ID, Cayman Islands and Peru bank records and a phone number leading to the motel he is hiding at, which allows the Cartel to locate him after Bolsa dials it. ("Carrot and Stick")

After Nacho comes to the realization that escaping is fruitless, he arranges a deal with Gus in which he will give himself up to the Cartel and clear Gus of any suspicion in Lalo's supposed murder in exchange for ensuring his father's safety and well-being. He is transported to Hector's desert shack by Victor and Tyrus before the presence of Bolsa, Hector and the Cousins; Bolsa kneels down next to Nacho and says that he will meet his death but the circumstances behind it could differ depending on the information he provides. When Nacho breaks free from his restraints, he stabs Bolsa in the knee, takes his pistol from him and holds him as a human shield. ("Rock and Hard Place")

Bolsa attends a meetting at Don Eladio's hacienda for a sit-down between himself, Eladio, Gus, the Cousins, and Hector. Bolsa reads out the message Hector relayed to the Cousins which claims that Gus was behind Lalo's assassination. When the Cousins admit they cannot corroborate Hector's story, having seen Lalo's body and never heard the phone call, Bolsa confirms Lalo's dental records match through his contact with the Federales. After Eladio dismisses the allegations and warns Gus, Bolsa pours himself a drink. ("Fun and Games")

Breaking Bad[]

Season 3[]

In a flashback following his secret meeting with the DEA, Tortuga is shown in a bar lecturing laborers with his stories about the haves and have nots. Bolsa comes in looking for Tortuga saying that he had a birthday present for him in the back. Tortuga follows Juan and is told that the tortoise on the ground is his gift. Tortuga is enthusiastic about his present until Bolsa signs it with the words "Hola DEA" on the shell, making it clear that he knows Tortuga is a traitor collaborating with the DEA. At this instant, Marco and Leonel come in and restrain Tortuga and brutally murder him by chopping his head off with a machete due to his betrayal to the Cartel. His head is then placed on the animal along with a mercury switch and C4 which was later used to ambush the DEA and Mexican police, killing at least 1 officer and maiming at least 4 others.

Juan Bolsa arranges a meeting between himself, Hector Salamanca, The Cousins and Gus. He tells Gus he will urge the Salamanca family to be patient, but advises that Gus risks losing the favor of the cartel if he does not finish his business with Walter quickly and that he cannot guarantee the Cousins will listen to reason. He has forbidden the Cousins to kill Hank Schrader, as the DEA is "off limits". ("I.F.T.")

After the ambush on Hank leaves one Cousin dead and another in the hospital, Bolsa is confined to his home as Mexican federales are watching him closely due to pressure from the American government. He suspects Gus of being responsible for the Cousins making a move on Hank, but cannot see the benefit to Gus as the pressure is delaying the drug shipments across the border. He promises that he will get the surviving Cousin, Leonel, the best lawyer possible and will get the truth of what happened.

3x8 Juan Bolsa-0

Bolsa about to get shot by Mexican federales.

Once Leonel suffers a cardiac arrest and dies due to being poisoned by Mike Ehrmantraut on orders from Gus, Bolsa calls and warns Gus that he is convinced he was involved in that death, promising he will survive the government's attention and pay Gus a visit afterwards. However, as he is speaking with Gus, gunshots are heard. Seeing his bodyguards getting killed, he attempts to make his escape. Opening his door, he is gunned down by an unseen assailant as Gus smiles on the other end of the line. ("I See You")

Season 4[]

Bolsa appears in a flashback showing Gustavo and Max's first meeting with Don Eladio, Hector and himself to form a partnership. The three cartel leaders mock Gustavo and Max for their claims that meth will net them millions and Bolsa helps restrain Gus after Max is murdered by Hector for his disrespectful actions towards the cartel. ("Hermanos")

Bolsa's death would later be avenged by his ally Hector who, with the aid of Walter White, suicide-bombs Gus, killing him and Tyrus Kitt. ("Face Off")

Personality and traits[]

Juan Bolsa is a reasonable and pragmatic man. Among most high-ranking members of the cartel, he is the most professional with a calm and composed behavior. He usually is seen acting as the voice of reason and a mediator between the Salamanca family and Gus Fring to make sure the business can continue and the cartel earns profits. Bolsa's behavior is the most similar to the one of Gus and probably the reason he works closely with Fring, acting as his direct boss and link to the cartel, Eladio specifically. But he secretly works with one side or another for his own benefits.

However, despite working with Gus for years Bolsa only cares for the profits they get from the Chilean, saying to Lalo that Gus would never be an actual member of the cartel but as long as he makes them earn money he'd still work with him. Bolsa usually acts as Eladio's messenger delivering his orders to the rest of their associates.

When he is not working or attending issues regarding with the cartel, Bolsa prefers to stay in his hacienda and relax taking care of his animals or drinking at his house, showing that he likes to live simple as a farmer instead of a businessman with luxuries .

Deaths[]

Murders connected to Bolsa[]

  • Tortuga: Decapitated by The Cousins on Bolsa's orders.
  • DEA Field Agent: Blown to pieces by a bomb strapped to a tortoise by The Cousins on Bolsa's orders.

Quotes[]

Better Call Saul[]

Bolsa: "You don't understand Gustavo. With him, it's all business."
Lalo: "All business? Like what happened in Santiago? Was that business, too?"
Bolsa: "I need to know that this is done with."
Lalo: "You trust Fring?"
Bolsa: "He'll never be one of us, but he earns. As long as he brings in the dollars, Eladio is happy. That's all that matters."
―Juan Bolsa and Lalo Salamanca talking about Gus.[src]

Bolsa: "Today you are going to die. But there are good deaths and there are bad deaths. I'll see that your death is a good one... Who put you up to this? (...) One last chance. Who? (...) [Scoffs]"
Nacho: "...it was Alvarez. Los Odios, out of Peru. They paid me to set up your nephew and I did."
Hector: "[Constantly ringing his bell in rage and points at Gustavo Fring]"
Bolsa: "Alvarez, we know. Los Odios, we know. Was anyone else involved?"
Nacho: "[looks at Gus and scoffs] Him? You think the Chicken Man? Heh. What a joke. Alvarez has been paying me for years...years, but you know what? I would have done it for free because I hate every last one of you psycho sacks of shit. I opened Lalo's gate, and I would do it again. And I'm glad what they did to him. He's a soulless pig, and I wished I'd killed him with my own hands. And you know what else, Hector? I put you in that chair. Oh, yeah. Your heart meds? I switched them for sugar pills. You were dead and buried, and I had to watch this asshole bring you back. So when you are sitting in your shitty nursing home and you're sucking down on your Jell-O night after night for the rest of your life, you think of me, you twisted fuck."
―Juan Bolsa interrogating a restrained Nacho Varga about the assassination attempt of Lalo Salamanca while Hector is attempting to indicate it was actually Gustavo Fring who set up his assassination attempt, and also the final words of Nacho.[src]

Breaking Bad[]

Gus: "Do I not run my own territory?"
Bolsa: "Of course you do. And I will advise them to be patient. But I recommend you finish your business with the man quickly. Or you risk losing the good graces of the cartel. That would not be wise. And those boys inside, I cannot guarantee that they will listen. They are...not like you and I."
―Juan Bolsa during his meeting with Gustavo Fring.[src]

Gustavo: "Juan, you sound like you're under a lot of stress. Maybe you should call me back when you're seeing things more clearly."
Bolsa: "I see things clear enough. One DEA gets shot, all of Washington starts barking. The DF suddenly has to put on a big show and I wind up with federales in my rose bushes. And just for a while, appearances, politics... Are you still there, Gustavo?"
Gustavo: "Yes, I'm here."
Bolsa: "I'll weather this. I always do. My brother is a police chief. I got connections. They'll get me through. And when I get proof and the others find out what you've done, maybe we come pay you a visit. Maybe we com-... ¿Que es eso? ¿Que es eso?"
―Gus and Juan's phone conversation, shortly before Juan is gunned down on sight. Gus, hearing this on the phone, smiles, breaks apart the phone and throws it away.[src]

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[]

Juan-Mugshot

A mugshot of Juan Bolsa.

  • Javier Grajeda and Bryan Cranston were once roommates. They met while starring in an episode of the TV show Cover Up. Bryan Cranston's character was a serial killer who killed Javier Grajeda's detective character.[1]
  • The literal translation of his name into English is "John Sack". "Johnny Sack" was a character on The Sopranos.
    • "Johnny Sack" acted as an intermediary between the Lupertazzi family in New York and the DiMeo family in New Jersey, much as Juan Bolsa acted as an intermediary between the Cartel and Gustavo Fring's empire north of the border.
  • It is unknown whether the mugshot of Bolsa, which appeared on an interactive game on AMC's website, is considered canon.
  • Juan Bolsa is one of the few characters in Breaking Bad who never meets Walter White.

Production[]

  • The filming location used for Juan Bolsa's hacienda is a historic Hacienda known as the Hacienda Antigua and current a bed and breakfast located at 6708 Tierra Drive NW, Albuquerque, NM 87107. Built in 1790, the Hacienda was originally a trading post serving Spanish settlers traveling along the El Camino Real (a long road connecting Mexico and the Southwest). 

References[]

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