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In Breaking Bad Gus Fring told the Salamanca twins,

The agent's name is Hank Schrader. May his death satisfy you.

How did he know Hank killed their cousin, Tuco Salamanca?

The twins seemed to know only that a DEA agent killed Tuco, but they didn't know which agent until Sunset.

Only three people witnessed Tuco's death: Walter White, Jesse Pinkman, and Hector Salamanca. None of them would tell Gus at that time.

  • Hector would never talk to the DEA about the incident. He was brought in for questioning about whether he knew Jesse Pinkman, but pooped in the DEA meeting room rather than say a word. He would never betray his nephew, since to him, family was everything. On top of that, he and Gus hated each other so he wouldn't tell anyway.

  • Jesse didn't have a trusting relationship with Gus at the time.

  • Walter would never betray a family member, Hank, to a man he didn't trust, Gus.

If the only 3 people who saw Hank kill Tuco had no reason to tell Gus, then how did Gus know?

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    Great question. I love it how even years later, there's still something new to discover. – MaxD Aug 31 at 12:03
  • Good question still unsolved, I'll love to see it solved in Better Call Saul series. – Moisés Briseño Estrello Sep 1 at 7:14
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    He read the script, how else? – Ink blot Sep 2 at 9:06
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Two likely sources:

Rumors

Yes, there were only 3 witnesses, but people talk and in the end the whole department did know that Hank was the shooter - he even received the Tuco's gold teeth grill as a memento for his performance. He accepted this in front of the whole bunch of people.

The official report

The DEA is a government agency, hence the details of its operations need to be stored somewhere. This obviously needs to include the information when agent has used his weapon, especially if this results in killing someone.

So in total it is not hard to guess that Gus, using bribery and influences, would have access to either of those.

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    I don't recall any scenes from the TV series showing Gus using bribery and influence. Or that he had access to internal reports. – RichS Aug 31 at 0:50
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    @RichS For example he had an access to Hank's private phone number (he has warned him about incoming attack) - something that wouldn't be a public knowledge. Also, IIRC, he changed the outcome (or at least had a very good knowledge about time and place) of the Mexico police raid on one of the drug dealers. The point is - he has the means to get that information. – Yasskier Aug 31 at 1:03
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    Gus Fring visited DEA at one point, apparently he participated in fundraising for the agency. The scene, if I recall correctly, was from a later season, but he may have been doing this for some time. youtube.com/watch?v=mjZBahh8ie0 – IMil Aug 31 at 13:31
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    Gus cultivated a relationship with ASAC Merkert (Hank's boss) and maybe other higher-ups, and was seemingly establishing himself as a regular DEA fundraiser. He was a master in keeping his enemies close and staying informed. – scry Aug 31 at 17:37
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    I always just assumed that it would be publicly available knowledge. Maybe it's different with the DEA, but if a cop kills someone in the line of duty, the public has access to the knowledge of that cop's name. – GendoIkari Aug 31 at 19:13
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No, there were four people who witnessed the killing. You're forgetting Hank. Presumably, Hank filled out a bunch of paperwork after killing someone. He would have had to inform his superiors at the DEA, and he probably would informed the local police as well.

Gus Fring was a respected Albuquerque businessman. He had extensive ties to law enforcement. He employs Mike, a former cop. He gives to fundraisers and has access to the DEA

(h/t to IMil in the comments for the link). He's clearly tossing a lot of money around, so it's not much of a mystery that he has access to DEA information.

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As other repondents have said, Hank made a report to his superiors. We see him explaining himself to George, the Agent-in-Charge.

Later on, we learn that Gus makes fundraisers for the police, advocates for them, with the intention of gaining intelligence from them. After Gus is exposed, George says

I had him [Gus] out to my house.... We cooked out in the backyard - my son shucked the corn, my daughter cut up potatoes. Fring brought sea bass - Every time I grill it now, I make a little foil pouch, just like he showed me. That whole night, we were laughing, telling stories, drinking wine, and he's somebody else completely. Right in front of me, right under my nose.

It's plausible Tuco's death at the hands of Hank is one of those stories.

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    Great answer ... I watched this exact episode last night. It reveals just how close Gus was to the ABQ DEA. – iandotkelly Sep 1 at 17:17
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    Thanks. The writers have an impressive ability to tie up all the plot points over a sprawling, complex story. Cf 'it wasn't me, it was Ignacio! Did Lallo send you?' – Ne Mo Sep 1 at 19:54
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There's two great answers already, but there's another angle that I haven't seen explored - maybe he didn't know?

The twins are after blood. Fring is after peace, he needs them satisfied. Having known the twins and their ilk a long time, he knows they need to be satisfied that the death is avenged. Fring doesn't stand to lose anything by having Schrader go away, in fact it's the removal of a good investigator that would be directly attributed to outside parties - an open and shut case that doesn't lead back to him, perfect!

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  • I really like this answer. Additionally to being Walt's brother-in-law, Hank is always displayed as BY FAR the most competent investigator in his department, so it would make much sense to choose him instead of any other random agent. – MaxD Sep 2 at 12:08
  • @MaxD That's quite a criticism of the DEA. – Acccumulation Sep 2 at 21:34
  • @Acccumulation If you are referring to not noticing his brother-in-law is the best Meth cook in the states, well, you probably got a point. But hey, the exception proves the rule. – MaxD Sep 2 at 21:43
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Maybe he didn't. Gus had good reason to tell the Salamancas it was Hank whether he knew that to be true or not.

Gus told the Salamancas that Hank killed Tuco, but there is no actual evidence that he really knew that to be the case. In addition, there was a strong motive for Gus to tell them it was Hank whether he knew it to be true or not. Consider all the things Gus hoped to achieve in giving his approval for the Salamancas to attack the DEA agent who killed Tuco, and his identification of Hank as that agent:

1) Protect Walt: Walt--whom Gus needed--is protected by focusing the Salamancas' desire for vengence elsewhere. Achieved - The Salamancas forgot about Walt and seemed to prefer going after the DEA agent.

2) Take the Salamanca brothers off the board: The attempt by the Salamancas combined with Gus's warning to Hank created a messy and very dangerous situation for the Salamancas in which they could have been killed, severely wounded, arrested, or identified. Even if none of these things happened, they would still need to leave the US for a long time (perhaps permanently) or at least have their activities in the US hamstrung by the need to avoid law enforcement. Achieved - one Salamanca dead and one maimed, arrested, and left an easy target for assassination.

3) Put law enforcement pressure on the cartel: Any attack on a DEA agent would vastly increase the pressure that US-Mexican law enforcement would put on the cartel, crippling the powers that were threatening and controlling Gus. Achieved - the cartel bosses were shown bemoaning this exact outcome.

4) Eliminate the danger posed by Hank's relationship to Walt: Hank--who is a threat because he is too close to Gus's operation by virtue of being Walt's brother-in-law--was probably even more likely to be killed or severely wounded in the attack than the Salamancas. Even if not killed, a crippling wound could end his law enforcement career and make him less of a threat to Gus. Almost achieved - Hank nearly died and almost had his career ended by his wounds.

Neither Gus's overall gambit nor any of the calculations or machinations that went into it actually required him to know for a fact that Hank killed Tuco. Even if we assume that he did not actually know that Hank killed Tuco, it makes perfect sense for him to tell the Salamancas that he did.

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