The Mendez Cartel was a very powerful drug cartel operating out of Vice City in the early 80's, until 1984. The Mendez Cartel also owns the mansion on Prawn Island that is eventually taken over by the Sharks in between 1984 and 1986. It is never disclosed whether they are related to San Fierro Rifa gang leader T-Bone Mendez; it could be a coincidence they share the same last name.
|Leaders:||Diego and Armando Mendez|
|Weapons:||AK-47, Micro-SMG, Pistol, Scorpion|
|Businesses:||Illegal drug Trade|
|Fronts:||Mendez Mansion, The Mendez Building|
|Members:||Fidel Sistaxez, Juan Ovzem, Des Buratto and Hugo Zehr|
During the storyline for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, the Mendez Cartel have a big shipment coming in, which is stolen by the Vance Crime Family leaders, Victor and Lance Vance. The two mistaking the drugs for belonging to Jerry Martinez, former sergeant of Victor in the army. After finding out that the drugs belonged to the Mendez Cartel, this forces the Vance's to go and officially "explain themselves" to Diego and Armando Mendez. The Vance's lie and claim that Martinez stole the drugs while using photos off Martinez talking to the federal as he is turning states.
After doing a couple of favors for the Mendez's, Victor Vance is put in contact with Ricardo Diaz, rival drug baron, through Reni Wassulmaier who is actually an 'item' with Diego Mendez. When the Vance's are called over to the Mendez mansion they are rewarded with a death trap led by the Mendez, full of explosives. The Vance's manage to escape and plan out ways to destroy the Mendez Cartel.
After several failed attempts, Armando Mendez kidnaps Louise and Lance, Armando then kills Louise, while Victor makes his way inside the Mendez mansion, confronting and killing a flamethrower wielding Armando. Diego Mendez then escapes to the Mendez Foundation Building in Downtown. Victor with the help of Louise's brother, Phil Cassidy breaks into the Fort Baxter military base and steals a Hunter. Later on, he uses it to attack the remaining head, Diego.
The Hunter is shot down but Victor manages to stop at the roof and survive the explosion. Forced to search through the building to find Diego, he makes his way and finally manages it. On a confrontation on the roof, Jerry Martinez, Victor Vance and Diego Mendez fight a three-men gunfight where Victor wins and kills the other two, winning the battle. Afterward the Mendez Cartel ceases to exist.
The Mendez Cartel members are depicted as wearing suits, with light colored shirts underneath, as well as having a notable moustache or ponytails. It could be true that it was the most powerful criminal organisation at that time, but when their leaders were killed, Diaz's gang took over all of the drug operations in the city. It could be true, that the Mendez Cartel was called, by many people, the Vice City Mafia, because they drive Sentinel XS' which is similar to Liberty's Leone Sentinel. They also dress like the mafia in the 80's.