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"When you're up to your ankles, you're gonna beg to tell me everything. When you're up to your knees, you'll kiss my ass to kill you."
― Franz Sanchez to James Bond[src]

Franz Sanchez was a fictional powerful and ruthless Central American drug baron who heads a powerful criminal cartel. He was responsible for the maiming of Felix Leiter and the death of his wife, triggering the anger of James Bond. The main antagonist in the 1989 James Bond film, Licence to Kill, he was portrayed by American actor, Robert Davi, and also appeared in John Gardner's accompanying novelisation. Still portrayed by Davi, the character would later be re-imagined for Activision's 2012 James Bond video game, 007 Legends.



Franz Sanchez is a Colombian drug lord running his own empire from the fictitious Republic of Isthmus. Owner of a large luxury estate, protected by an army of henchmen and controller of the city President, Sanchez has either bribed, intimidated or killed most of the government’s officials. Heading an international drugs cartel, Sanchez is both ruthless and merciless, yet is cultured, refined and a man of his word. Sanchez rewards loyalty but promises death to anyone who double-crosses him. With paranoid tendencies relating to the loyalty of his men, James Bond was able to exploit this weakness to manipulate Sanchez into killing several of his own men; convincing him of their disloyalty.

Capture and Escape

"I want you to know that this is nothing personal. It's purely... business."
― Franz Sanchez to Felix Leiter[src]

Sanchez confronting Lupe Lamora

Prompted to leave the safety of his lair by the infidelity of his mistress, Lupe Lamora, Sanchez traveled to the Bahamas with his three main enforcers (Dario, Perez and Braun); catching her in bed with another man, Alvarez. Ordering Dario to cut out the man's heart as an ironic gesture, Sanchez then severely whips her with the tail of a stingray. As Sanchez makes his way back to the nearby airfield, he is intercepted by a DEA team comprised of Felix Leiter and James Bond (ostensibly, as an "observer"). Amid the chaos, Sanchez takes to the air in a stolen Beechcraft 18 and sets course for Cuba. The agents pursue him by helicopter and hook his aircraft in mid-flight, taking him into custody.

During Sanchez's transportation to Quantico, DEA agent Ed Killifer succumbs to a two million dollar bribe and assists the drug lord's escape by driving the prison van into the sea. Scuba divers sent by Sanchez's associate, Milton Krest, then help them make their underwater escape. Meanwhile, Dario, Perez and Braun ambush Leiter and his wife Della on the night of their wedding. After repaying Killifer for his loyalty, Sanchez enacts his vengeance on Leiter by having him dunked into a shark tank at the Ocean Exotica warehouse. When Bond returns to Leiter's house to find Della dead (and it is implied, raped) and Felix alive, but seriously wounded, he swears to take his revenge on Sanchez. Consequently, Bond boards the Wavekrest – a ship owned by Krest – and foils the kingpin's latest drug shipment, stealing five million dollars in the process.


"Señor Bond, you got big cojones. You come here, to my place, without references, carrying a piece, throwing around a lot of money... but you should know something: nobody saw you come in, so nobody has to see you go out."
― Franz Sanchez to James Bond[src]

After maiming Leiter, Sanchez is smuggled back to safety in Isthmus, where he acquires four Stinger Missiles from the Contras and threatens to shoot down an American airliner if the DEA refuses to back off. He meets with five Asian drug lords as part of his goal of expanding his cocaine empire to incorporate the Pacific region; offering each of the men exclusive franchises in his narcotic product, priced at one million US dollars per territory. Unaware that one of the men is actually a Hong Kong narcotics agent, he reluctantly agrees to takes them on a tour of his main distribution centre. Bond has also traveled to Isthmus on the trail of Sanchez, and after making some winnings in the kingpin's Isthmus casino, he approaches him seeking employment in his organization (introducing himself as a "problem eliminator"). After reconnoitering the establishment, Bond notes that Sanchez is well protected, sitting behind two inches of armored glass. Using plastic explosives, 007 attempts to demolish the window and snipe the drug lord from an adjacent building site. Despite detonating the explosives, two Hong Kong Narcotics officers foil Bond's assassination attempt and take him to their safe house for questioning. Attacking the building with a tank, Sanchez and the Isthmian militia inadvertently rescue Bond and kill the officers, believing them to be the assassins.

Now ingratiated with Sanchez and nursed back to health at his private villa, Bond sets about destroying his operation by turning him against his own employees. Taking advantage of Franz's paranoia (with the aid of informant Pam Bouvier, Q and Lupe Lamora) Bond frames Krest by placing the five million dollars he had stolen into a hyperbaric chamber on board the Wavekrest. A furious Sanchez traps Krest in the chamber and then rapidly depressurizes it with an axe, killing him gruesomely. When Perez asks about the money, Sanchez just tells him to launder it. For Bond's perceived loyalty, Sanchez admits him into his inner circle and takes him to the narcotics refinery along with the Orientals. Bond learns that Sanchez's scientists can dissolve cocaine in gasoline and then sell it disguised as fuel to Asian drug dealers. The buying and selling are conducted via the televangelist Professor Joe Butcher, working under orders from Sanchez's business manager Truman-Lodge. Four tanker trucks loaded with the mixture were prepared for the drug lords (pending their agreement). However, during the presentation Dario recognizes Bond and betrays him to Sanchez. Bond starts a fire in the laboratory and attempts to flee, but is captured, bound by the hands and feet, and placed on a conveyor belt that drops brick-cocaine into a giant shredder.


Sanchez is burnt to death by James Bond

"You could have had everything."
"Don't you want to know why?
― Franz Sanchez and James Bond[src]

While being fed along the conveyor belt, Bond directed Sanchez's paranoid attention to his head of security, Colonel Heller's absence during the fire, stating that would be the last he would see off Heller and his Stinger Missiles. The drug lord found Heller in the middle of moving the Stingers from his helicopter and told him to move the Stingers to his own car, whilst exchanging a knowing glance at Braun. Shortly thereafter, Heller was impaled on the forks of a forklift. Sanchez fled as the fire consumed the facility, taking with him the four articulated tankers; pursued by Bond and Pam Bouvier in a light aircraft. During the course of the chase through the desert, three of the four tankers were destroyed, sending the cartel's profits up in smoke. Sanchez resorted to wastefully using the Stingers against Bond, remarking to Truman-Lodge that it was only money. With more tankers burning, Sanchez was screamed at by Truman-Lodge for his failures, resulting in Sanchez shooting the talkative man with a Micro UZI. Having failed to kill him, he personally attacked Bond aboard the final remaining tanker, accidentally severing the break line with a machete; causing it to veer out of control and crash down a hill side. Bloodied and soaked in petrol from the leaking tanker, Sanchez raised his blade to kill Bond, lamenting that he could have had everything by working under him, rather betraying him. The incapacitated agent asked if Sanchez wanted to know why he did it, revealing his cigarette lighter, a gift for being the best man at Felix and Della Leiter's wedding, and ignited Sanchez's clothing, showing that Bond wanted vengeance. Burning, Sanchez stumbled into the wrecked tanker, causing a violent explosion which killed him, avenging Felix and Della.

Alternate continuities

Licence to Kill (novelisation)

The John Gardner's novelisation provides a little background information for Sanchez, noting in passing that he was so named because of a supposed conjunction between a fascist German woman and a wealthy Panamanian businessman. Furthermore, in the book, Sanchez acquires unidentified prototype missiles instead of Stinger missiles.[1] Despite this, the character is almost identical to his cinematic counterpart.

007 Legends

Sanchez (likeness of Robert Davi) in 2012's 007 Legends.

Sanchez: "All this? You did all this for an American?"
James Bond: "No.. all this for my friend."
―Bond hurls Felix's lighter at Sanchez, setting him on fire. — (audio)Listen (file info)[src]

Franz Sanchez also appears in the video game 007 Legends which takes its inspiration from the final act of Licence to Kill. In it, Sanchez is an infamous drug dealer operating out of Mexico and ruling over a vast criminal empire that stretches from North America down into Chile and Argentina; from the poppy fields of Afghanistan, to cocaine processing facilities in Colombia, and counterfeit goods and money laundering in Egypt. Sanchez was drawn to the drug trade from an early age, first raw material production, then refinement and shipping until he eventually became a dealer himself. His ruthless business ethic led him to the top and he now commands the largest drugs cartel in all of Central and South America; cultivating successful business partnerships with gangs from the far east, Russia and central Eurasia. Infamously purchasing information and favor from government officials at a price of one million US dollars, his legitimate business interests include owning a bank in his native Colombia and a casino in the Mexican city of Chihuahua.

Prior to the events of 007 Legends, Sanchez brutally maims James Bond's friend, Felix Leiter, feeding him to a shark and murdering his wife Della. In a flashback sequence, Bond visits Leiter at home, discovering the carnage and pummeling one of Sanchez's thugs. Leiter provides the spy with a cigarette lighter containing intelligence on Sanchez and tells him to warn one of his agents, Pam Bouvier. The pair team up and infiltrate Sanchez's operation; with Bouvier claiming to defect from the DEA, returning $2 million of Sanchez's money the agency had recently seized from a cartel courier. Meanwhile, 007 is officially tasked by MI6 with investigating the drug lord's close ties to a shadowy faction of terrorists based out of the middle east. Operating an enormous narcotics refinery under the cover of an old Otomi temple, Sanchez shows Pam around the laboratories whilst 007 gathers evidence of arms smuggling and plants explosives around the complex. The drug lord discovers her covert listening device, blowing her cover and forcing 007 to detonate the explosives; knocking Sanchez unconscious and pinning Pam under wreckage. Introducing himself to the kingpin as 'a friend of Leiter', Bond beats him before being tackled by his enforcer, Dario. Taking advantage of the chaos, Sanchez flees in a gasoline tanker loaded with his cocaine mixture. Bond and Bouvier pursue him, eventually boarding the tanker and brawling until the vehicle veers out of control and crashes. Staggering through the wreckage, the pair fight until 007 gains the upper hand - knocking him to the ground and hurling Leiter's cigarette lighter at the gasoline-doused drug lord.


"Loyalty is more important to me than money."
― Sanchez to Milton Krest.[src]

As a wealthy drug lord, Franz Sanchez was a cruel, ruthless and immoral man who was insensitive to the people he killed or caused to suffer. His violent and ruthless tendencies frightened even some of his own lieutenants, including Milton Krest and Truman-Lodge. However, despite his cruelty, Sanchez was a man of his word, obsessed with the loyalty of his subordinates, whom he rewarded graciously while ensuring that those who betrayed him suffered horrible fates, as demonstrated during the Leiters massacre and Krest's death, among others. Thus, he had a paranoid temperament about the loyalty of his men, and his sense of security and control was his only known weakness that Bond was able to exploit to bring his empire to self-destruction by convincing him of Krest's and Heller's disloyalty. A sophisticated person, Sanchez adopted the appearance of a friendly, quiet, cultured, refined, and respectable man in his interactions with other officials, which was nothing more or less than a facade to hide his true personality. He also enjoyed living in the luxury of his various properties. With all this taken into account, Sanchez was certainly one of the worst criminals on the planet and one of the darkest villains in the franchise.

Henchmen & associates


"Then I guess it's time to start cutting overhead."
― Sanchez before killing Truman-Lodge.[src]

Behind the scenes

Robert Davi was cast as Sanchez following a suggestion by Albert R. Broccoli's daughter Tina,[3] and screenwriter Richard Maibaum, who had seen Davi in the television film Terrorist on Trial: The United States vs. Salim Ajami. To portray Sanchez, Davi researched the Colombian drug cartels and how to do a Colombian accent,[4] and since he was method acting, he would stay in character off-set. After Davi read Casino Royale for preparation, he decided to turn Sanchez into a "mirror image" of James Bond, based on Ian Fleming's descriptions of Le Chiffre.[3] The actor also learned scuba diving for the scene where Sanchez is rescued from the sunken armored car.[4] Esquire Magazine ranked Sanchez #13 in the list of James Bond Villains, saying, "While Franz Sanchez may be a fairly boilerplate Scarface riff, he's played with exceptional charm and menace by the great character actor, Robert Davi."[5]


Franz Sanchez/Gallery


  • Sanchez was seen at some points in the film accompanied by a pet iguana wearing a jewel-encrusted collar. The gaudy pet collar was likely a sign of Sanchez's ostenstatious display of ill-gotten wealth. The iguana itself may have been homage to Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who became most recognized for stroking a pet Persian cat.
  • Robert Davi himself suggested that Sanchez smoke cigars. He also agreed with Benicio del Toro, who plays Dario, that the henchman should be the closest to Sanchez, giving them a brotherly relationship, even suggesting to del Toro that he shout "Sanchez" as he dies in the grinder.[6]
  • According to Ed Killifer, the number of felony counts Sanchez was facing in Florida totaled 139, so he would have faced a total sentence of 936 years in prison.
  • Sanchez is arguably the darkest Bond villain in the franchise, due to his incredibly brutal methods of torture and killing (i.e. allowing Dario and his men to rape Della, maiming Felix Leiter by feeding his leg to a shark, and killing Milton Krest via decompression)


  1. 1.0 1.1 Gardner, John [1989]. in Orion: Licence to Kill (in English). Kent: Coronet. ISBN 1409135764. 
  2. Country of origin is strongly implied to be Columbia in Licence to Kill and is explicitly provided in 007 Legends.
  3. 3.0 3.1 (1999). Inside Licence to Kill [DVD]. Licence to Kill: Ultimate Edition: MGM.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Robert Davi. (1999). Audio commentary [DVD]. Licence to Kill: Ultimate Edition: MGM.
  5. Jacob Hall. "All 104 James Bond Villains, Ranked", 14 May 2017. Retrieved on 2018-07-18. 
  6. https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Trivia/LicenceToKill