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Best Drug Dealers in Film

18 Oct

Honorable Mention:

Ronald Reagan - Okay, Reagan is not a fictional character like the rest of these characters, but he was an actor, and when he opened the Panama Canal, he became one of the biggest American drug dealers in history.

50 Cent - This Curtis Jackson guy is completely fictional like the rest of the men who will be mentioned on this list. Being shot nine times does not make you a drug dealer. Being shot nine times means you pissed off the wrong guy.

 breaking bad - heisenberg02

The List:

Walter White/Heisenberg – Breaking Bad

Mr. White was a chemist turned chemistry teacher turned meth cook. This had to come from TV land. But, his character was nuanced and dynamic. This soft, loving father of two became a self-serving monster over the course of the full series. Cancer pushed him into providing for his family illegally, but Walter had been disparaged long before he started selling. A life full of disappointments, unfulfilled potential, and random coincidence led him to his unlikely start in the drug game, but he used his knowledge of chemicals to provide a superior product to his buyers, earned millions of dollars, and eventually worked his way into being a drug boss. But, his success in the drug game led him into a destructive individual quest for power and recognition.


Johnny Tapia – Bad Boys II

Tapia was the biggest drug dealer in Miami. His ecstasy ring was responsible for millions of dollars of revenue in the greater Florida area, and his interests stretched from money laundering to counterfeiting to murder. Johnny Tapia was willing to put down anyone who stood in his way including his own family. He was completely neurotic and he used everyone, including the KKK to push his products across the area.


Stringer Bell – The Wire

Stringer Bell was one of the most calculated criminals on this list. He and a childhood friend built a drug empire that entrenched itself in the heart of the Baltimore housing projects in the inner city. They strong-armed rival crews, they hid their business in the Carter City projects, and they killed anyone from those projects who claimed that they would testify against them. And while Avon Barksdale, his childhood friend was locked up on drug charges, Stringer streamlined the company and made it more profitable with less risk for himself and his lieutenants. He hoped to get out of drug dealing altogether. Stringer took economics courses at Baltimore City Community College to further his knowledge of money and how to acquire more, and he reached out to local politicians in an effort to legitimize his drug money into an entity that could stand on its own merit. Stringer was cerebral, but he was also ruthless. He had one of his subordinates killed while he was in prison, made it look like a suicide, and went to his house and comforted his mother after the death. He organized the second arrest of Avon Barksdale after they could agree to terms on how the business should be run.

drug dealer - layer cake

XXXX – Layer Cake

Though we never learned his official name, XXXX was one of the most calculated drug dealers on this list. He was intelligent and charming. His attitude was polite and effusive. Though he was a criminal, XXXX seemed like he was just a good human being caught in a unique circumstance. Viewers could picture themselves as him, a middle man in a lucrative drug-trafficking business who never wanted to get his hands dirty.


Tuco Salamanca – Breaking Bad

Anyone who has ever lived in a bad neighborhood knows a Tuco Salamanca. Tuco was completely unstable. He was so crazy that anyone, including his crew members, could fall into the path of his wrath for almost any offense. He ruled through fear, but was loyal to those above him and extremely intuitive with his business matters. He knew when to attack the competition, when to play nice with others, and when to go into hiding to avoid prison time. He would rob, beat, or kill anyone who stood in his way and he punished anyone for any perceived slight.


Gustavo Fring – Breaking Bad

Gus Fring was an affluent business man who owned a successful chain of “Los Pollos Hermanos” chicken restaurants across the nation. He was a great philanthropist who personally fought the war against drugs and supported the local police force financially and through public service. But, Gustavo Fring was the man who “hid in plain sight” as Gus.


Nino Brown – New Jack City

Ruthless describes Nino Brown perfectly. He was willing to do anything to become the biggest drug dealer in New York. He and a small group of his closest friends from his youth founded a criminal organization called the Cash Money Boys or CMB to take over drug trade in New York City. Nino Brown used intimidation, calculated murders, and a multilayered drug operation to turn profit in “The Carter” housing projects. He held the residents of the Carter paralyzed in fear through constant violence and the power of drug addiction. But, he was also treated like a celebrity because of his public charity events. Nino Brown knew how to manipulate the public, but he was as heartless as other villain that movie cinema has ever seen.


Tony Montana/Scarface – Scarface

He started from the bottom as a Cuban criminal and defector and worked his way into the top circle of the Columbian drug trade through sheer willpower and a willingness to do what no one else would do. Tony Montana was equal parts the American dream and public enemy number one. He immersed himself into criminal activities from the first opportunity he was given in the United States and showed a real affinity for it. He worked his way from being hired muscle to becoming a contract killer. He turned that into an opportunity to sell drugs and ultimately killed and double-crossed enough people to be a drug boss. Tony Montana was extremely violent and ambitious. He scraped and struggled in his native Cuba to survive which gave him the drive to excel in America.

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