|“||I love you, Esmeralda. But I loved my father more.||”|
–Carlito's last words, V11C8
Carlito Cesar Flores is a major recurring antagonist (and later somewhat anti-hero) during Cause of Death who plays an antagonistic role in the second, fourth, sixth and eleventh volumes. He is the youngest son of Esteban Flores and the younger brother of Miguel Flores, as well as the husband of Salazar Cartel member Esmeralda Salazar. Although not stupid or incompetent, Carlito was an extremely hotheaded member of the drug cartel.
He was initially a member of his father's Flores Cartel, but following his father's death he became a member of the Salazar Cartel, led by his wife's father Pablo Salazar.
Born into the Flores cartel, Carlito fought and rebelled against his father's instructions, desiring to become his right-hand-man. Rash, hot-headed, impulsive, and full of hatred, he often considered himself the inferior son after his brother Miguel. Carlito became engaged to Esmeralda Salazar to secure an alliance with the Salazar cartel. However, he genuinely fell in love with her and often took her advice over his father's.
Carlito's personality significantly contrasts with his father and brother. While they, especially Esteban, appeared to be pragmatic and disciplined with a respect for authority, Carlito was hotheaded and impassioned and made reckless decisions. Despite this, he is immensely loyal to his family, which he values beyond everything else. He greatly cares for his family, especially his father, whom he even shot his wife Esme for after learning that she killed Esteban and held Mal accountable for the murder.
His stubbornness has led him to be perceived as immature by those such as Esteban and General Salazar, who has even referred to him as Esme's trophy husband and "boy toy". Though he did his best to prove to his superiors of his abilities, he fails to impress them, due to the fall of the Flores cartel once he took charge.
In the eleventh volume, there were some hints that Carlito had begun to re-evaluate his loyalty to General Salazar and his hatred of Mal. This was first shown when he saved Mal's life during a battle with The Brujo. This was also demonstrated when Mal criticized Carlito for staying aside the Salazar Cartel in spite of their atrocious human activities (namely child slavery) in V11C5, commenting that Esteban, despite being a criminal, would never resort to such tactics, and Carlito seemed genuinely hesitant.
Avenging Miguel's Death (Volumes 1 and 2)
Carlito and Esteban first appear in the bonus scene of Volume 1, where they are standing over Miguel's grave. Miguel was killed by Mal in self-defense earlier in the Volume. Esteban prompts a restrained and pragmatic approach to revenge while Carlito is more eager. Esteban requests that Carlito go spend time with his mother in this time of grief. (This woman is never seen or mentioned again after this scene).
In Volume 2 Chapter 2, The Ghost, after assassinating Tom Grayson (a corrupt customs official who cost the Flores Cartel money), targeted Mal Fallon. They battled in Chapter 3, where Mal narrowly survived but Natara Williams was injured in the fight. Mal reasoned that the Flores Cartel sent the assassin, and went to visit their villa alongside Ken Greene.
The two arrived at the house to discover Carlito and Esme, who were extremely passive-aggressive and tense. They claimed that Esteban was away on business, but he suddenly arrived, surprising everyone. Mal and Ken were forced to leave, but after Mal takes advice given to him by his father Jacob, he is able to blackmail Carlito and Esteban into betraying The Ghost under the threat of him exposing Esme to immigration services (as Mal correctly predicted that the Flores Cartel did not want to earn the bad faith of the Salazar Cartel by getting its heiress locked up).
In the bonus scene of this chapter, it is revealed that Carlito -- as Mal correctly predicted after leaving the villa (noting the shock on Esteban's face) -- sent The Ghost after Mal behind his father's back and without his permission. Esteban was enraged at Carlito's recklessness and physically attacked him; Carlito screamed back that Esteban didn't care. Esme reappeared after his father left and comforted him and commented that it would not matter what Esteban would think soon enough.
Turning on his father (Volumes 4 and 6)
In the second chapter of Volume 4, Carlito and Esteban succeeded in usurping the Flores Cartel from Arcangel Flores which gave them enormous power. Jacob Fallon warned Mal that as a result of this successful power play, the Flores Cartel was unafraid of the blackmail deal so he helped set up a meeting between Esteban and Mal to make peace. Carlito discovered his father negotiating with Mal at Miguel's grave and kidnapped both of them, livid and enraged at his father's betrayal, even telling his father that this was the first time he questioned whether or not he was a good man.
Carlito planned to have his father kill Mal, but after realizing that he wouldn't have the courage to do anything if he refused, he became crestfallen. Then, just as Mal and Esteban began to escape captivity, Esme stabbed Esteban through the chest with a fireplace poker and blamed Mal for his death, which enraged Carlito thinking Mal had killed both of his family members. A livid Carlito was arrested and sent to San Quentin while Esme narrowly escaped.
During the prison riots in the fifth and sixth chapter of Volume 6, Carlito, with the help of Javier Garcia, escapes San Quentin. In the bonus scene of the sixth chapter, he meets with Esme at the Flores safehouse. He orders that they return to San Francisco to avenge Miguel and Esteban's death, but Esme refuses. Carlito begins to get physical, but the guards surrounding them threaten Carlito establishing Esme as the dominant power in the relationship. Carlito acquiesced and was forced to set aside his desires to avenge his family for the moment.
Carlito was neither involved nor present during the Kings of Las Vegas arc in Volume 9.
Loyalty to the Salazars (Volume 11)
In the second chapter of Volume 11, it is revealed that Carlito and Esme were the ones who organized the abduction of Mal Fallon in the previous volume's finale. They kidnapped him not over vengeance, but to use Mal as a bargaining chip because Jacob Fallon betrayed the Salazar Cartel in Las Vegas following the Kings of Las Vegas arc, causing many of the lieutenants to be arrested while disappearing with over $100 million of Esme's money. Mal managed to get the better of a guard and hold Carlito at gunpoint, but at the sudden appearance of Pablo Salazar, he was forced to give him up.
In the third chapter, Carlito is convinced by Mal to assist him in manually capturing The Brujo. After they spoke to Luis Villareal, they figured out his likely location. Carlito said they should report this to Salazar, but by pointing out that this was his opportunity to earn the General's respect (as the General thought lowly of Carlito prior) by returning the Brujo themselves, they tried to arrest them on their own. Mal also tells Carlito that there is more to his father's death than he knows about and promises him he will elaborate if Carlito works with him. (Mal also has the option to tell Carlito that Esme killed his father, but this will cause Carlito to go into a rage and kill Mal resulting in a game over as Carlito is not in a state of mind to hear such a hard truth).
The two work to capture the Brujo, and both of them save one another's lives in the process. At the villa, the general executes the Brujo and arrests Mal, placing him in a dungeon to wait out the days until his execution shall Jacob Fallon not show up.
Later on, Carlito manages to arrest Gabriel Soto, the leader of the rebel unit, on his own. He enlists the help of Mal in convincing Soto to talk and reveal the location of his rebel allies, offering Mal the promise of a more comfortable resting place if he succeeds. But the guard there ...
Carlito captured the leader of the San Trobida rebellion, Gabriel Soto. Rather than torturing him as General Salazar suggests, he has Mal interrogate, desiring to learn the inconspicuous truth of his father's death. Mal then betrays Carlito, escaping with Gabriel (though Gabriel only escapes, as Mal sacrifices himself for the continuation of the rebellion). Carlito is punished by General Salazar, who recommends he simply follows his wife's lead, which Carlito has shared his doubts about her father's tactics and his father's death to.
In the final episode of Volume 11, Carlito enters a showdown between General Salazar and Mal, pointing his gun at Mal. Mal confesses what actually happened when Esteban died: Esmeralda killed him. Though Esmeralda attempts to justify her actions, stating that she only did it to end the tension between the Flores and Salazar cartel, Carlito pays no attention to what she is saying, claiming he always loved his father more. He shoots her in the forehead, killing her. General Salazar shoots Carlito in the chest multiple times, followed by Mal shooting General Salazar. Carlito dies only seconds after the shootout ends.
Carlito married Esme for the purpose of establishing ties between the Flores and Salazar cartel, however later came to fall in love with her. Never in power, he was deemed the weaker half of their relationship for which he was made fun of for by his superiors, however never by Esmeralda. He felt subordinate to Esme, frequently taking her orders. Nevertheless, he still loved her and shared his concerns with her, such as General Salazar's interrogation tactics and his doubts about his father's death.
When Esmeralda admitted to murdering Esteban, Carlito was betrayed. He stated that he loved her deeply, but always loved his father more and shot her, instantly killing her.
Much of Carlito's relationship with his father focused on Carlito's determination to impress him (this determination even almost resulting in his father's death). He frequently fought with Esteban over the position of heir of the cartel; however, Carlito's impulsiveness and immaturity led his father to only view him as a child. Despite their unstable relationship, Carlito was heartbroken and enraged over his father's death and vowed to avenge him by killing who he believed was his murderer—Mal. Upon learning the true details of his father's death—that Esmeralda was behind his death—he states that he loved Esme, but always loved his father more.
Carlito felt inferior to his brother Miguel, due to Miguel qualifying more as the leader of the cartels. When Miguel died, similar to his reaction to his father's death, Carlito was enraged and heartbroken, disregarding that he was killed in an act of self-defense. He sent The Ghost to assassinate Mal as revenge. Despite his initial response to his brother's death, he was understanding of why he died.
Carlito's father-in-law, he and General Salazar did not maintain a good relationship. General Salazar looked down on him, due to the downfall of the Flores cartel under his leadership and being the weaker counterpart of his and Esme's relationship. Carlito disagreed with the General's interrogation tactics and methods of running the nation of San Trobida, believing they were too harsh and that his father would never approve of them. After Carlito killed Esme, General Salazar fired multiple shots into Carlito's chest, killing him.
After having killed Miguel, Carlito sent The Ghost to assassinate Mal Fallon, careless that he did as an act of self-defense. He constantly advocated executing Mal as revenge, even pleading to his father. After his father was allegedly killed by Mal, he supported abducting Mal to San Trobida, where he planned that would Mal die in.
Despite the negative feelings he harbors towards Mal, as time went on, he was uncertain of if Mal truly killed Esteban. He told Esme that he did not pick Mal as a cold-blooded killer, that he essentially was a good man. Additionally, he thinks highly of Mal's detective skills, choosing him interrogate Gabriel Soto, along with once saving his life from El Brujo attacking him.
- In the Volume 1 Bonus Scene, Esteban tells Carlito that before they can decide how/if they should avenge Miguel's death, that Carlito should go spend time with his mother. His mother is never seen or explained.
- In the V11 Interlude, Carlito Flores is one of the 3 men sent to assasinate on his dad's orders; set in 2003, this would mean that Carlito was working for thee cartel since the age of 16.
- Carlito's death symbolized the end of his role in the story, after a nine-volume run. This trait of being a long-time rival is shared with The Ghost, Esmeralda Salazar and Genevieve Collins.