- This article is about the character. For the third episode of the first season of Better Call Saul, see Nacho.
We got hit the other day. A truck headed south got hijacked. Someone stole a quarter of a million. Now Hector's flippin' out, lookin' for who did it. Thing is... I think it was you. They left the driver hog-tied, not a mark on him. Anyone in the game woulda capped him without a second thought. But this driver? He's still breathin'. I thought to myself, who's the guy who'll rip off a couple hundred thousand in drug money and leave a witness? Who's the guy who won't pull the trigger? You. I'm not here to squeeze you. You wanna rip off the cartel, that's your business. But here's the thing. I'm picking up that driver, Hector's orders. We're gonna see what he knows, and if he knows you, that's bad for both of us.
|― Nacho explaining the situation to Mike.|
Ignacio Varga, better known as Nacho, is a calculating, intelligent career criminal. He is the right hand man to Tuco Salamanca, heir to the crime family of the same name. While not yet a kingpin himself, Nacho is bright and has the ear of his terrifying boss. Nacho hires Jimmy as his lawyer after being introduced to him by Tuco at the start of Season 1. He secretly begins working with Mike Ehrmantraut at the end of season 1. He admires Mike's calm and calculated way of working, compared to Tuco's impulsive and insane way of working. Nacho is the tritagonist of Better Call Saul.
Nacho Varga is the son of Manuel Varga and works with him at his upholstery store. However, Nacho is also close friends to the powerful drug dealer Tuco Salamanca and one of his most trusted men. Nacho helps Tuco run his illegal operations in Albuquerque by serving as one of his enforcers.
When Tuco captures Jimmy McGill and the twins Cal and Lars Lindholm for trying to scam Tuco's grandmother, he asks Nacho, Gonzo and No-Doze to take them into the desert, where they try to find out who they are. Jimmy tries to explain that Tuco's grandmother wasn't the original victim of the scam, but the couple Betsy and Craig Kettleman, who had stolen millions from the government. Jimmy is a lawyer and was trying to get the couple to hire him, however, the twins ended up confusing Tuco's grandmother's car for Betsy's instead. At first, Tuco doesn't believe Jimmy and even threatens to cut off his fingers using pliers, but Nacho takes over the interrogation and convinces Tuco that murdering a lawyer would raise too many questions. Tuco decides to let Jimmy go.
Sometime after the desert confrontation, Nacho meets with Jimmy in his small office. Nacho is interested in the Kettleman's story and wants Jimmy to help him rip them off. Jimmy declines his offer, asserting himself as a lawyer, not a criminal. Nacho gives him his phone number and says that now Jimmy is "in the game". ("").
Now aware of Nacho's plans, Jimmy tries to make an anonymous call to warn the Kettlemans that they are in danger. Concerned, the Kettlemans look outside their house and sees Nacho's parked van. The next day, the Kettlemans are nowhere to be found while their house is left ransacked. Nacho is arrested after being denounced by a neighbor who saw his van parked outside the Kettleman's house. The police search his van, finding blood on the floor (belonging to Lars and Cal from their previous encounter).The police finds Jimmy, who had been trying to communicate with Nacho over the disappearence of the Kettlemans, and escorts him to the station, where he discusses the case with Nacho. Nacho maintains his innocence, admitting that he had performed surveillance on the Kettleman home, but did not kidnap them. Nacho warns Jimmy that if he does not get the charges dropped against him the police might uncover his connections to Tuco's criminal organization, which would result in Jimmy's death. Terrified, Jimmy goes to try to fix the issue. ("").
After Jimmy found the Kettlemans, Nacho is released from police custody, who then discreetly accuses Jimmy of warning the Kettlemans before they went into hiding and that Jimmy will face "consequences". Jimmy rebuts by implying that he warned the family for the children's sake, and that any trouble Nacho got into he brought upon himself. ("")
Much later, Nacho is the contact who is buying pills from Pryce, with Mike Ehrmantraut serving as Pryce's bodyguard during the drug deal. When Pryce counts Nacho's money, he points out that he is short $20 from the price of the pills. Mike demands the agreed amount or the deal is off. Reluctant at first, Nacho coldly forks over the rest of the money and leaves with the pills. ("")
Nacho meets with Pryce to buy more pills from him, but this time, Mike is not present as Pryce's bodyguard, due to the both of them parting ways. While Pryce counts up Nacho's money, Nacho admires his new bright yellow Hummer H2 with red flames and uses Mike's absence to his advantage and steals Pryce's personal information from his auto registration, learning that Pryce's real name is Daniel Warmolt. Sometime later, Nacho breaks into Daniel's house and steals all of his drug money, as well as his personal baseball card collection. ("")Being clueless on how to act as a criminal, Daniel calls the police to investigate the break-in. The two cops end up finding Daniel's secret area behind the sofa where he kept the drug money and eventually becomes a suspect. Mike gets worried that Daniel might get caught and snitch on the whole operation they had, so he confronts Nacho at the upholstery shop run by Nacho's father, where Mike pretends to be interested in reupholstering his car in order to get Nacho’s attention. When they’re alone, Mike informs him that he knows Nacho was behind the break-in at Daniel's house. He demands Nacho to give the cards back to Daniel so he won't get arrested, but Nacho shrugs it off. However, Mike has an ace up his sleeve: he threatens to reveal Nacho’s dealings with Daniel to Tuco. Since the pills deal is being conducted behind Tuco's back, it's clear that he won't be pleased if he finds out and might consider Nacho a traitor; Nacho gives in to Mike's demands. At their regular drug deal spot, Nacho gives Mike $10,000 and returns Daniel his baseball cards, but ends up taking his Hummer to his chop shop to be disassembled. He then declares that his business with Daniel is finished. ("")
When Mike requests more work from his crooked veterinarian, Caldera, he is given a job by a man who requested for Mike specifically. This is revealed to be Nacho, who meets with Mike at an abandoned warehouse and says, "There's a guy. And I need him to go away." ("") The next day, Mike and Nacho meet across the street from El Michoacáno, the restaurant where Tuco and Nacho regularly collect the money owed from dealers. Nacho wants Mike to kill Tuco in a drive-by type of execution and promises to pay him well. Nacho reveals a scar on his left shoulder and tells a story of when Tuco and him had a job together. Tuco started getting suspicious that one of their friends and associates, a man called Dog Paulsen, was ripping them off. Tuco shot Dog with a shotgun point blank in the face while Nacho was behind him, lodging a piece of his skull into Nacho's shoulder. If Tuco were to find out that Nacho was working independently, he may have the same fate.
When Nacho meets Mike the next day at the abandoned warehouse, Mike says he won't kill Tuco but instead they should land him in prison. Back at the restaurant, Tuco and Nacho are following their usual routine of counting money from their dealers. They are finishing counting money from Domingo's sales and after he leaves, Mike, from across the street, calls the police, alerting them of a fight in the restaurant. From inside, Tuco and Nacho see Mike bump into Tuco's car, and Tuco angrily confronts him. As Mike and Tuco's fight escalates, a police siren is heard, prompting Nacho to take the money they collected and leave in his van. Nacho later meets a beaten and bruised Mike and gives him the money he earned. He then asks Mike why he went through so much for less money just to avoid killing Tuco, but receives no answer as Mike drives away, leaving him alone. ("")Even though Mike's plans to get Tuco arrested worked, only more problems arose for Nacho. Don Hector Salamanca, Tuco's uncle and a powerful leader from the mexican cartel, takes over the Salamanca business in Albuquerque and Nacho is forced to continue working for them. Don Hector starts intimidating Mike into telling the police that the gun found on Mike and Tuco's fight scene was actually Mike's, as this could potentially reduce Tuco's jail time. After receiving many threats at his house and later one to his family, Mike agrees to meet Don Hector, the Cousins, Arturo and Nacho at Hector's ice cream shop. Nacho pats down Mike before letting him in, sitting behind Mike as he talks with Hector about the deal to get Tuco less jail time. Later that night, Nacho arrives at Mike's house to deliver the money decided upon on the deal. Mike splits the pay with Nacho to make up for their failure on the job to take out Tuco. ("")
Nacho calls Mike to a meeting, confronting him about an attack on a driver, Ximenez Lecerda, for the cartel with a quarter million stolen, that he figured had to have been done by Mike. Nacho is in charge of seeing what Ximenez knows, and Nacho is worried that if he knows anything about Mike, it'll be bad for not just Mike, but Nacho himself as well. He eventually realized that Mike was trying to draw police attention to Hector's operation, after Mike asks why it wasn't on the news, and Nacho takes extreme offense to it. Nacho reveals that Hector killed a passing civilian that drove by the scene and freed the driver. He then leaves an unsettled Mike alone, and drives off. ("") On Hector's orders, Nacho and Arturo drive the van to a desolate location with Ximenez tied up in the back. Unknown to them, Mike is following closely behind, planning to kill Don Hector with a sniper rifle. Nacho is later seen at the same desolate locations, following closely to Hector, as Arturo and the Cousins gets ready to execute Ximenez. Nacho unintentionally blocks the line of sight of Mike, who is waiting far away to take the shot. ("")
Season 3At the restaurant, Nacho continues his routine of counting money from dealers, but with Don Hector himself monitoring the transactions. When Domingo comes up short on his payment, Hector forces Nacho to beat him up and teach him a lesson. Nacho begins to grow disillusioned. As part of Gustavo Fring's agreement with Hector, Gus' men hand over a portion of his smuggled drugs to Nacho, who insists on taking one more package than was agreed to. Gus orders his henchmen to allow Nacho to take the extra portion. Hector ordered Nacho to do this because he wanted to see Gus' reaction, but he was disappointed on the results. Knowing that using the chicken trucks is only a temporary measure, Hector wants a new smuggling route and decides to use Nacho's father's upholstery business as a front over Nacho's objections. The conversation is interrupted when Hector finds out that Tuco has stabbed another prisoner in jail and then assaulted a police officer, he has now been placed in solitary confinement. Hector gets furious at this as Tuco will now serve more time than he should've, Hector starts having a coughing attack and takes his heart medication to calm down, but accidentaly drops one of the capsules, which Nacho steals without him noticing. ("")
Nacho approaches Pryce with the pill stolen from Hector and offers to pay Pryce to obtain copies of the capsules with no medication. At a meeting with Pryce and Mike, Mike learns the full story about Hector's desire to force Nacho's father into the drug trade and the plan to replace Hector's medication with fake pills. Mike agrees not to interfere, but advises Nacho to switch the pills back after Hector dies so they cannot be traced back to him. He then requests from Nacho the location of the burial site of the citizen Hector murdered early on. ("")Nacho fills the fake capsules with ibuprofen which he plans on slipping into Hector's coat pocket; not only would Hector be deprived of the medication he needs, but ibuprofen actually increases risk of heart attack and stroke. The following day, at the El Michoacáno restaurant, which has become incredibly hot and moist thanks to Nacho who secretly damaged the restaurant's air cooling unit the night before, Nacho does his daily transactions with the dealers, starting with Domingo. As Nacho counts Domingo's money, Hector removes his coat, allowing Nacho the perfect opportunity to execute his plan. Nacho pretends to scrutinize one of the dollar bills in Domingo's stack, claiming that it looks "funny". Hector asks him to come over so he can scrutinize it. As Hector examines the bill, Nacho quickly removes Hector's pill bottle from his coat, before proceeding to "accidentally" drop it and the money on the ground. Once he gathers the money, Nacho returns to his seat, carefully keeping the pill bottle on his lap, while he counts the next dealer's money. Once the dealer is gone, Nacho carefully switches Hector's real pills with the doctored ones. While Nacho proceeds to get Hector more coffee, he successfully tosses the bottle of the doctored capsules into Hector's coat pocket. ("")
Don 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 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 again, leading him to open the vial containing Nacho's spiked pills. However, much to Nacho's disdain, the pills have no apparent effect. Later, Nacho visits his father to reveal to him that he's been working for Don Hector, and he will soon be coming to take control of Manuel's upholstery shop. Nacho pleads with his father to do what Hector wants and not do anything "stupid," meaning approaching the police. Manuel refuses and tells Nacho to get out of the house, which he obliges. ("")Nacho takes Hector to his father's shop to show around how the operations work. Hector meets with Nacho's father and offers him some money upfront as a sign of friendship, but Nacho's father is an honest man and refuses to cooperate with criminals like the Salamancas, ordering Hector to leave his shop. This infuriates Hector, who tells Nacho that he doesn't trust his father anymore. Nacho feels desperate, as the pills apparently have no effect and his father is now running serious danger, so Nacho decides to take care of Hector himself. At night, he goes to Hector's warehouse to execute him, but is surprised to see that another cartel meeting with Gus and Juan Bolsa was about to take place. Bolsa informs Hector that Don Eladio is reinforcing his orders regarding Gus' operations. Hector grows enraged at the Don's orders and starts screaming at Bolsa and Gus that the Salamancas have worked hard for 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. ("")
Season 4As Hector is taken away in an ambulance, Nacho tries to dispose of the fake medication by dropping them down a sewer. However, he is interrupted by Gus who informs him that Juan Bolsa needs to speak with them at the Los Pollos Hermanos Factory Farm. Nacho and Arturo are told by Bolsa that the Salamancas will retain their territory despite Hector's illness, and will carry on as before. Leaving the farm, Nacho drives to a bridge and throws the fake pills in the river. Unknown to him, he is being watched by Victor who has placed a tracker on his vehicle. ("")
Nacho tells his father that Hector will no longer be harassing him, and tells him that he is working on getting out of a life of crime. At the hospital, a new doctor begins treating Hector. Nacho and Arturo are encouraged to talk to Hector as part of the treatment. Nacho lies and tells him that he knows he will get past the stroke and be stronger than ever. Arriving at the Los Pollos Hermanos Factory Farm to collect their drug shipment, Nacho and Arturo find that Victor and Tyrus intend to only give them five packets rather than six. A stand-off follows and eventually Victor relents and produces the sixth packet. On the way back to the car, the pair are ambushed by Gus and his men. Arturo is suffocated to death, and Gus makes it clear he knows what Nacho did to Hector. Gus tells him that the Salamancas do not know, and that from this moment on, Nacho is his man. ("")Victor and Tyrus stage a scene to look like Arturo's car was ambushed by a rival gang to cover his murder by the hands of Gus. They first blow all the tires before shooting the car from the side a lot of times to make it look like a drive-by happened. Soon after, Arturo's corpse is placed on the driver's seat and shot in the head. To sell the illusion even more, Nacho sits on the passanger sit and allows Tyrus to shoot him in the shoulder. After Nacho leaves the car to make the call, Victor surprises him by shooting him in the stomach, Tyrus claims that they "gotta make it look real." Tyrus leaves Nacho a cell phone to call for help. Later that day, the Cousins arrive to investigate the scene and find Nacho suffering from blood loss and exposure. They question him about the attack and enlists the help of Dr. Caldera to save his life. Caldera tends to Nacho's wounds and gives him a blood transfusion from Marco. Caldera gives him advice on healing his injuries, and then tells him that he does not want to be involved in the cartel's business. ("")
Not much time later, Nacho takes a ride along with the Cousins. Nacho watches a silver Firebird enter the Espinosa compound. Gus plans to frame the Espinosas for the "attack" on Nacho and Arturo; Nacho had previously told the Cousins that they were ambushed by gunmen driving a Firebird. After watching the compound from afar, Nacho decides that the best course of action is to attack at night. He intends on calling Domingo and some other dealers who work for the Salamancas to assist them, but the Cousins ignore him and launch an assault on the compound immediately in broad daylight. After the twins walk inside the compound shooting and left Nacho alone in the car, he sees backup arriving and decides to help the Salamancas by killing one of the gangsters who has just arrived. He then walks inside the compound to find Leonel cornered by the gangsters who arrived as backup. Nacho tries to join in on the shootout, but his injuries from the ambush kick in and he isn't able to continue. Marco shows up just in time to save Leonel and kills the remaining gangsters. The Cousins manage to wipe out the Espinosas, recovering a packet of drugs that Gus had earlier delivered to the compound to sell the ruse. At night, Nacho reports the destruction of the Espinosas to Gus, and relays that the Cousins have gone south to lay low. Gus suggests that Nacho take some time to rest, as he still has a lot of work to do. Nacho goes to his father's home and asks him to let him stay there for some time. His father tries to get him to go to hospital, but he refuses since it would not be safe. ("")
Several months later, Nacho is in command of the Salamanca turf in Albuquerque, most likely being manipulated by Gus. He took over Tuco and Hector's role of overseeing cash collections at the restaurant, with Domingo being the middle man between him and the dealers. Domingo counts money from a bling-wearing drug dealer, who has come up short. Domingo initially allows the dealer to leave, but Nacho summons the dealer over to his table. Nacho tears off one of the dealer's earrings and warns him that, "What you owe, you owe with interest." After the dealer leaves, Domingo turns around to affirm Nacho's action, but Nacho asks why he didn't do it himself. Domingo acknowledges Nacho's hint, and right away another dealer enters the diner, while Nacho watches calmly. After dark, Nacho drives his new muscle car to his new upscale house, where two young women are inside watching TV. Without a word, Nacho gives them small bags of crack and retreats to his bedroom. There, he stashes his drug money in a safe in his closet. As he does so, Nacho looks at fake Manitoba ID cards for himself and his father, showing that he has an exit strategy.Some days later, Nacho arrives back at the restaurant for another session of money collection, but is surprised when he enters the restaurant to see both Domingo and the restautant owner sitting nervously near the front door. He notices there is someone else in the back kitchen cooking while listening to loud mexican music, so he walks over to investigate. Nacho greets the stranger and the man offers him what he's just finished cooking, mentioning that it's a secret family recipe. Nacho connects the dots and correctly assumes the man is a Salamanca. "I'm Eduardo Salamanca, but you can call me Lalo," says the man. Nacho asks what he's doing there, and Lalo mentions that the family sent him over to check how things are going, but reassures Nacho not to worry, it'll be as if he's not even there. Lalo walks back to the restaurant and sits beside Domingo. Nacho worried in the kitchen, as everytime he takes down a Salamanca, another one shows up in his place. ("")
Nacho becomes Lalo's personal driver for a day. They first head over to Casa Tranquila, where Don Hector is living now, bound to his wheelchair and unable to move nor speak, Hector's only means for communication now is tapping his index finger for yes or no questions. With Nacho overseeing the conversation, Lalo addresses Hector, remembering an incident where the two of them burned down a hotel and tortured the proprietor for showing disrespect. Lalo goes on to say that he went back into the hotel as it was burning, and retrieved a souvenir that he has kept for years. He presents the souvenir to Hector as a gift: the bell from the hotel's front desk. Lalo ties the bell to the armrest of Hector's wheelchair, allowing him to ring it for the first time. Hector looks over to Nacho and then to Lalo, he gets the message and tells Nacho to give them some privacy as they talk about "the Chilean." Later, Lalo has Nacho drive him to Los Pollos Hermanos. Gus greets them as Lalo enthusiastically compliments Gus for his chicken. Lalo is invited back into Gus' office while Gus gives Nacho a cold look, Nacho signals that it's not his fault another Salamanca showed up to interfere in their business. After talking to Gus in private, Lalo questions Nacho where Gus conducts his illegal operations, Nacho mentions the chicken farm outside of town and Lalo orders Nacho to drive him there. ("")
Murders committed by Nacho
- 1 member of the Espinosa Gang: Shot twice in the torso by Nacho.
Murders connected to Nacho
- 21+ members of the Espinosa Gang: Shot by the Cousins after Nacho identified them as Arturo's killers on the orders of Gustavo Fring.
- "You get me out of here.. today.. or you're a dead man."
- ―Nacho Varga threatening Jimmy
- "Yeah, I'd cut the cute attitude right about now if I were you. [A beat] You ratted on me. There will be consequences."
- ―Nacho continues his bluster against Jimmy
- "You think I'd be caught dead driving that thing? It looks like a school bus for six-year-old pimps."
- ―Nacho chastising Daniel over his Humvee
- There might be a reference to this character in Saul's initial appearance on Breaking Bad. When Saul is held at gunpoint by Walt and Jesse, Saul (mistakenly thinking that people sent by a person named Lalo are holding him at gunpoint) says "it wasn't me, it was Ignacio."
- Since the name Nacho is short for Ignacio, it might be possible Saul talks about the same person. Peter Gould has hinted this is the same person.
- Nacho's vehicles include:
- Nacho never meets Kim Wexler, Howard Hamlin or Chuck McGill.
- Ignacio likely has Hungarian roots since Varga is a Hungarian surname. The Hungarian word "varga" translates to "" in English.
- Nacho's real Albuquerque phone number is 1-505-242-6087 which goes directly to his voicemail.