It’s safe to say that Walter White had absolutely no idea what awaited him as soon as he entered the drug trade. What initially was supposed to be a short escapade for him to earn some quick money eventually snowballed down into a pit of sharks except in this context, we’ll replace the sharks with Cartel members.
Their appearances in Breaking Bad and even Better Call Saul are always spectacular and are bound to be attached to violent encounters one way or another. As such, there’s no doubt that the Juarez Cartel in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul are the most dangerous people in the show. Hence, let’s take a look back at how they compare to one another when it comes to notoriety and their body count. Let’s find out who really is the danger!
Well, former member, but what we have here is the bottom of the food chain. Street-level credentials, although Jesse Pinkman did rise up to manufacturing pretty admirably thanks to his colleague. It’s also worth noting that Jesse was Walter White’s primary bridge to the Juarez Cartel and through him, got introduced to Tuco Salamanca.
Does that make Jesse dangerous? No. The guy couldn’t even hurt a kid with words if he wanted to—though we know he could hurt a fly. He is, however, extremely loyal and does commendably well under pressure, whether that’s gunfire or manufacturing deadlines. He also made a pretty good impression on the Juarez Cartel despite his short membership.
Ignacio “Nacho” Vargas is a relative newcomer to the Breaking Bad mythos, though it appears Saul Goodman has already mentioned him by accident back in Breaking Bad. Anyway, think of him as a more competent and more established Jesse Pinkman. He’s also bald, beautiful, has a damaged relationship with his parents, and constantly gets manipulated by his higher-ups.
Even so, Nacho manages to get by through sheer luck. There are also others who have come to recognize his potential in the deadly game of the Cartel, namely Gus Fring. Ignacio is also high enough in the Cartel chain initially as Tuco’s right-hand man and eventually, taking over his duties after the latter got arrested.
Speaking of the devil, here’s Tuco Salamanca. He’s quite possibly the most volatile and unstable member of the Juarez Cartel and the Salamanca family, and that’s saying something. One of his biggest quirks and differences is being a regular user of the products he helps distributes, making him rather unprofessional.
Moreover, Tuco is just way too violent both for his comrades and his enemies alike. If you can recall, he killed someone just by using their face as a punching bag back in the first season of Breaking Bad and he did it all out of… whatever the heck he was feeling at the time. He’s as much a threat to his allies as his enemies.
They’re two people, but, since they’re twins, then they might as well share the same spot, as they shared the same womb. The Cousins, for that matter, is one synchronized murder brain split into two bodies. They don’t talk much (or at all), but, when the time comes to whip out the guns and the axes, you don’t want to be an enemy of the Juarez Cartel.
They have shown in Better Call Saul just how efficient killers they are, taking down a whole compound of armed enforcers by themselves and with a little help from Nacho Vargas. They’re also the most stylish members of the Juarez Cartel—you’ve never seen grim reapers this well-dressed.
Eduardo “Lalo” Salamanca
Next up is the most charming and possibly the most cunning member of the Salamanca family, Eduardo Salamanca, otherwise known as Lalo. He was also introduced fairly late into Better Call Saul, but his presence is an undeniable attention-grabber. Every appearance he has in Better Call Saul is met with unpredictability and intellect.
In fact, he has shown that his street smarts and guile are nearly the same levels as Mike Ehrmantraut’s, who has age and experience at his side. As proof of Lalo’s expertise and efficiency, Gus Fring had to completely rethink his methods of completing his underground drug lab, that’s how dangerous this Salamanca is.
Speaking of dangerous Salamancas, Don Hector probably takes the cake. He’s the head of the Salamanca family and was also the former high-level capo of the Juarez Cartel before being demoted (possibly due to his ultra-violent tendencies). As you can imagine, Hector is the spitting image of the devil in the Juarez Cartel.
He’s ruthless, intelligent, constantly suspicious, and plain psychotic regardless of who he’s talking to. He has even tried to drown one of the Cousins back when they were just kids and has shown gross disrespect for the Cartel head by urinating in his pool. If that’s not enough to convince you of how dangerous he is, know that he was partly responsible for killing Gus Fring… while wheelchair-bound.
The Cartel officer who replaced Hector as the high-level capo? That would be Don Juan Bolsa. Unlike Hector, he is more calm and composed, certainly less ruthless—at least on the surface-level. However, he has proven to be quite effective at sniffing out snitches or betrayers within their ranks, as is evident when he dispatched Tortuga back in Breaking Bad.
Apart from being the Cartel head’s second-in-command, Juan Bolsa also directly works with Gus Fring in maintaining the supply lines between Mexico and the U.S. His task at ensuring Fring’s operations remain smooth and that he also remains loyal is quite a monumental undertaking, something Juan Bolsa maintained for many years without fail.
Don Eladio Vuente
Finally, we get to the head of the Juarez Cartel, Don Eladio Vuente. He’s the man behind it all and keeps everything together from all the way down in Mexico. Being head of the most powerful Cartel in Mexico is not something that happens to just anyone, which is why Don Eladio has the arrogance and hubris to back that up.
He was basically untouchable and didn’t even have to lift his finger to have someone killed. Nobody else had that sort of power over anyone in Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul. Don Eladio was even confident enough that a lowly businessman from Chile wouldn’t mind if he killed his best friend.
There he is, the chemistry-teacher-turned-Cartel-manufacturer-turned-kingpin, Walter White, or also known in the streets as Heisenberg. He was one of the most recent significant members of the Juarez Cartel in Breaking Bad and worked for them for a brief time with Tuco, providing him a way in, and, eventually, Gus Fring.
By the end of it, not only did Walt become the only survivor of the Juarez Cartel (at least as a former member), but he also briefly established his own drug empire to rival the Cartel’s. Along the way, he left a trail of bodies behind and even indirectly caused a devastating airplane accident.
It was a tough battle, but, ultimately, Gustavo Fring comes out on top of the Juarez Cartel danger hierarchy despite losing to a chemistry teacher. That’s because Gus took out the entire Juarez Cartel (minus himself, Pinkman, and some miscellaneous contracts) with only a handful of his people. Moreover, Gus’ caution and calmness just trump Walter White’s impulse and emotional breakdowns.
Let’s also not forget what makes Gus more dangerous than Walt: his willingness to use and kill even children or just about anyone if need be. Walt’s attachments to his family and Pinkman have proven to be a glaring exploitable weakness, whereas Gus virtually had none.