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He is considered the world's most notorious narcotrafficker, who owns the island of Cayo Perico, one of the most secure private islands in the entire world, and uses it as the nerve center of his drug empire. He was also involved in turf wars and the disappearance of reporters, and is also supplier to the Madrazo Cartel. In Heist Prep: Gather Intel, El Rubio mentions that his grandfather ("Opa") was German.
The storage rooms and office in his compound contain many photographs on the walls showing him engaged in various activities, including:
- Playing Golf at Los Santos Golf Club in a Caddy.
- Relaxing in the cave pool at the Richman Mansion with two women in bikinis.
- Dancing in front of a Festival Bus wearing a costume.
- Piloting a Velum.
- Fishing off the back of a Dignity or Galaxy Super Yacht.
- Posing for a Police mugshot.
- Posing at Premium Deluxe Motorsport with Simeon Yetarian in front of an orange Emerus.
- Posing with two women inside a nightclub.
- Standing outside the gate of the Epsilon Center in Rockford Hills with an unidentified younger man.
- Having dinner with a middle-aged woman overlooking the Downtown Los Santos skyline.
- There are other featured photos of this mature woman, indicating she is probably a close relative.
There are also many vintage photographs of characters and scenes from Red Dead Redemption 2 including Andreas and other German characters, which, when combined with his statement about his Opa, indicate some likely ancestry.
Events of Grand Theft Auto Online
Los Santos Summer Special
El Rubio was first mentioned in the end of GTA Online: Los Santos Summer Special update, in a 10 second teaser for The Cayo Perico Heist update entitled "surveil.exe", which consisted of a digital surveillance file entitled the El Rubio Dossier. The 10 second teaser concluded with a view of the corpse of a John Doe on Vespucci Beach with the notation his last known visual contact was at LSIA and that his known affiliations include El Rubio.
The Cayo Perico Heist
Strickler is introduced by name when the player meets Miguel Madrazo at The Music Locker in 2020. Miguel claims he somehow managed to get hold of "decades' worth of intel" which he was threatening to take to the DEA unless the cartel renegotiate their drug supply prices.
Strickler is seen greeting the player, English Dave, and Keinemusik when they arrive at the island's airfield. After a short talk, the player is required to drive him and English Dave to the party, where he gets Scott Storch to read a pre-written sycophantic introduction speech before introducing Keinemusik to take over the DJ position. Later, while scoping out the island, the player witnesses Strickler ordering his guards to execute Gustavo for embarrassing him in front of his guests, by feeding him to his black panther. If the player returns to continue scoping out the island, Stricker can be found dancing in his seat at the beach party.
During the heist itself, Strickler resides in his secure compound and can be heard over the loudspeaker system berating his guards. Once he realized that his vault has been robbed, he mans the minigun of his Valkyrie MOD.0 to hunt for and attack the player. He will continuously taunt and insult the online protagonist via loudspeaker until they manage to escape the island.
While El Rubio doesn't physically appear in The Contract update, it's mentioned that Pavel has visited Franklin Clinton's Agency (offscreen) in 2021, looking for the GTA Online Protagonist, and asking when the protagonist is going to take "another trip to the Caribbean", confirming they are still occassionally robbing El Rubio's Compound to this date.
When in public, Strickler presents himself as a fun and generous philanthropist and attempts to maintain a good image. However, when alone, he is revealed to be vicious and ruthless. During The Cayo Perico Heist, he can be heard threatening his guards over the speakers on the island, oftentimes for minor things. Because of his brutality, he can be a very intimidating man, as seen during his conversation with Scott Storch.
- Grand Theft Auto Online
El Rubio's character background appears to be inspired by Carlos Lehder, due to his German ancestry and Colombian nationality and the linguistic combination of Spanish and German in his name, and owning a private island who serves as a drug-smuggling operation headquarters and party island.
His character and voice is similar to Scarface film protagonist Tony Montana, portrayed by Al Pacino; both characters are obsessed with wild cats (and both have one as pets) and valuable antiques (as shown in Scarface: The World Is Yours video game).
He also bears some resemblance to the late John McAfee, founder of McAfee Corporation, who has been the subject of paranoiac behavior and legal troubles over drug manufacturing, weapon possession, and murder during his residency in Belize in the early-2010s.
The literal translation of "El Rubio" is "The Blonde" in Spanish. His other nickname, "The Blond Colombian", also alludes to this.
- Some of his pictures found inside the compound reference pictures of the Medellín Cartel.
- The picture of him piloting a Velum references the picture of Carlos Lehder piloting a plane.
- The picture of him posing for a Police mugshot references Pablo Escobar's famous mugshot picture.
- The picture of him standing infront of the Epsilon program building references the picture of Pablo Escobar standing infront of The White House with his son.
- He is wearing a Legendary Beaver Flop Hat from Red Dead Redemption 2 in the picture of him enjoying a party.