José Ismael Mendoza Falcón
José Ismael Mendoza Falcón
"He's faithful to Santa Muerte"
In order to survive in the Mexican underworld, cartel leaders have to be smart, wily and most of all ruthless. Despite his unflattering nickname, José Ismael Mendoza Falcón possessed all of these attributes, something which enabled him to survive longer than most in the deadly business of narco-trafficking. As a leader of the Los Metros faction of the Gulf Cartel, Mendoza Falcón or “M-60”, was often in danger of being killed by his rivals or captured by the authorities, surviving each day on the run from justice.
When the Gulf Cartel split from their erstwhile allies, Los Zetas, the drug war intensified and M-60 was obliged to choose which faction to support. By staying loyal to the Gulf Cartel, he made many powerful enemies among his old comrades the Zetas. On the day of his death, as he lay dying from his wounds, Mendoza Falcón would undoubtedly have been praying to Our Lady of the Holy Death, the deity of the cult of Santa Muerte, of which he was a devoted follower. His death would only further escalate the planned drug war with Matamoros.
Known as the “Frontera Chica,” an area that encompasses the municipalities of Camargo, Miguel Aleman and Ciudad Mier, this region sits directly across from the U.S./Mexican border from Starr County, Texas. This Mexican territory is hotly contested by drug gangs, with Los Metros fighting frequent incursions from their former allies Los Zetas, and later the Zeta successor group Cartel del Noreste. The Frontera Chica is primarily under the control of the Gulf Cartel, and the appointed leader wields great influence within the organization.
The Stupid Cop
One such Frontera Chica overseer was José Ismael Mendoza Falcón, an old school faction leader within the Los Metros group, one of the many drug gangs that forms the Gulf Cartel, one of the oldest and most powerful of the Mexican drug trafficking organizations that dominate the international drug trade. Little is known of Mendoza Falcón’s early life, only that he worked as a federal policeman in Miguel Aleman and Mier, before eventually working on behalf of the Gulf Cartel, becoming a member of the Los Metros group commanded by M-3.
Mendoza Falcón was originally believed to have worked for the Zetas, who recruited many former ex-military, former special forces and policemen to work for the group. It was understood that these men would bring with them the necessary skills they had previously used to hunt drug traffickers, and utilize those very same skills in help the cartel remain one step-ahead of the authorities. When the Los Zetas group split from the Gulf Cartel in 2010, José Ismael Mendoza Falcón was one of several Zetas who stayed loyal.
His new boss, Samuel Flores Borrego “El Metro Tres/M-3”, was well-respected by his men, and enjoyed enormous influence within the Gulf Cartel. Mendoza Falcón assumed the code-name “M-60” and was known by his nickname “Polimenso,” the literal translation of which to English is “Stupidcop, or Dummycop” owing to his apparent low intelligence and former career as a policeman. It was M-3’s death, on September 2, 2011, that ignited a bitter war within the Gulf Cartel between the Los Metros and Los Rojos factions.
During this conflict, Polimenso would have fought in the gun battles against Los Rojos, that saw hundreds killed, and peace was only achieved then many of the Rojos leadership were either killed or fled to the United States. His status within the Cartel and Los Metros grew, and on August 16, 2012, his name was one of twenty-one written on a Narcomanta left to commemorate the birthday of M-3. Mendoza Falcón was listed among the names of other influential Los Metros Comandantes such as M-4, El Mellado, El Negrito/Gama-3, X-20/El Pelon, El Gringo and El Puma.
When the next leader of Los Metros, Héctor Delgado Santiago “M-4” was killed, his position was assumed Mario Armando Ramirez Trevino “X-20/El Pelon” in January 2013. X-20 proceeded to purge many of his rivals within the Cartel such as El Gringo and El Puma, and elevated those who had remained loyal, men such as Polimenso. He soon began to gain a greater measure of influence within Los Metros, and songs were even sung in his honor. A corrido by Larry Hernandez title “El Polimenso” contains the lyrics, “He’s faithful to Santa Muerte, Polimenso he’s nicknamed, due to his takes of death…”
Under the leadership of X-20, Polimenso would be appointed to the important but dangerous position as head of the CDG Ribereña, the regional territory of northern Taumaulipas known as the “Frontera Chica”, which comprised the Miguel Aleman, Camargo and Ciudad Mier. Each of these area were commanded by a Los Metros Comandante who answered to “M-60”. The Camargo Plaza was at one point controlled by Alberto Martinez Gutierrez “Comandante Wero/Guero Cleofas”, the Miguel Aleman Plaza by Roberto Saavedra Santana Delgado “Comandante Chiricuas/M-85/Metro-85” and Ciudad Mier Plaza by José Antonio Romo López “La Hamburguesa”.
All of these men would fight against the Los Zetas Cartel, as well as the Mexican military. José Ismael Mendoza Falcón was considered a very violent individual responsible for the deaths of many police officers and soliders. In almost every corrido about Polimenso, it is said that he loves “la lavada,” most likely meaning cocaine. Despite his nickname “Stupidcop,” Mendoza Falcón was astute enough to jump ship to the Gulf Cartel during the split with Los Zetas, and he never went for the position of cartel leader, believing that whoever assumed this would become a target of the Mexican and US governments.
Comandante Polimenso witnessed the ascension, and downfall of several Gulf Cartel leaders during his tenure with Los Metros. His former boss Osiel Cárdenas Guillen was arrested, M-3 and M-4 murdered, while X-20 himself was captured. Juan Jose Rodriguez Garcia “Juan Perros/Pantera 11” assumed power after X-20, however by May 2014, he too had been arrested and his position as leader of the Gulf Cartel was taken by José Tiburcio Hernández Fuentes “Comandante Gafe/M-64/El Gafe”, who had been a loyalist of X-20 and a former bodyguard for “El Metro 4”.
With growing power of the Matamoros faction, El Gafe and his associate Juan Francisco Carrizalez Lara “El 98/Juanito/M-98”, both of whom were plotting against the remnant of the Cárdenas Guillen family. Polimenso was promoted within the Cartel, becoming Chief of Operations, effectively the war chief of Los Metros CDG Reynosa, under El Gafe. The conflict between the Reynosa Los Metros and Matamoros Los Ciclones was fought in the Southeastern port city of the Tampico Plaza of the CDG Sur as a proxy war among gangs supported by the northern Tamaulipas factions.
Death of Polimenso
With victory in the ongoing war in Tampico effectively achieved by the Los Metros, the Gafe/M-98 faction were planning further attacks against Matamoros. It is unknown if Polimenso supported this, however other Los Metros Comandantes such as El Mellado who refused to offer support were eliminated. It is likely that, as Chief of Operations, Polimenso fully agreed with the plans to invade Matamoros. During his time in Reynosa, Mendoza Falcón had numerous shoot-outs with Mexican police, and on several occasions he saved the life of another Los Metros Comandante, Guadalupe Leal Flores “Tachas/M-17”.
The Leal Flores family had gained significance within the Cartel in recent years, and Tachas, who oversaw the dangerous Las Cumbres neighborhood of Reynosa, was known as unpredictable and crazy, with only his brother “El Simple” able to control him. Tachas was one of several Reynosa sector commanders who did not fully support the planned war against Matamoros, owing to his strong dislike for El 98. The Leal Family been responsible for the betrayal of El Gringo, the boss of El 98, during his war against X-20. It is possible that the only reason the El Gafe/98 alliance did not go after Tachas was because of Polimenso.
On October 1, 2014, it was reported in Mexican media outlets that three members of a drug trafficking organization had been killed by the Mexican Army. The Attorney General of Justice of Tamaulipas reported that in Reynosa, three armed men were killed during a confrontation with soliders shortly after 4:00am. The shootout occurred on Hidalgo boulevard near Mil Cumbres and Avenida El Pasito, where armed civilians who were travelling aboard a late model Tahoe SUV encountered a Mexican Army patrol.
When they noticed the army patrol, the armed men opened fire as they attempted to flee, but the driver of the Tahoe lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a lamp post. The gunmen were believed to be members of Los Metros, and one of the men was identified as José Ismael Mendoza Falcón, also known as “Polimenso/M-60”.
It was reported that three men had died at the scene, while Polimenso was transferred to a nearby hospital for medical care. He had sustained five bullet wounds, and was in a serious critical condition. On October 4, 2010, it was reported that he had succumbed to his wounds. At the scene of the shootout, police search the Tahoe and inside found the personal weapon of Mendoza Falcón, a golden pistol next to a bag of white power.
The gun featured a design of ornate floral patterns and on the handle surrounded by diamonds, and bears his nickname “Polimenso”, next to a skull emblem underneath his codename “Metro 60”. It was later learned that during the shootout, Polimenso requested back-up from Tachas/M-17, but rather than send reinforcements, Tachas instead left Polimenso to his fate and retreated with his forces, leaving him wounded and captured.
Later reports and comments of social media offered more context on the circumstances of the encounter between Mendoza Falcón, his men and the Mexican army. A note that circulated online describes how the residents of Reynosa were fed up of the acts of Los Metros, and taunted the death of the ‘drug addict’ Polimenso, and threatens that the same will happen to others because the citizens known where they and their families all live and hide. It goes on the claim that Polimenso was shot in the ass and was crying, denying his identity, however those sicarios with him revealed who he was, hoping to save themselves.
Because Tachas abandoned him, the note made fun of him, explaining that he claims to be ready for combat, but then runs like a coward despite Polimenso asking for help. The note goes on to demand no more ponchallantas/road spikes, no more shootouts, no more armed patrols, no more using drugs in public, no more drug sales which kids can witness, no more killing relatives of cartel members, and an end to the killing of innocent people, robberies, extortions and kidnappings. The warnings gives Los Metros one week to change their ways or they will be hunted down, and their locations given to the soldiers.
With the death of Polimenso, the Comandantes El Gafe and El 98 moved to consolidate their power further over Reynosa. Attacks were launched against Matamotors, but they lacked the full support of many other Los Metros Comandantes. In March 2015, a meeting was arranged between El Gafe and Tachas in the Las Cumbres neighbornood of Reynosa. Tachas had previously attempted to set-up another important Los Metros commander, Julian Manuel Loisa Salinas “Comandante Toro/Metro 42”, by giving away his location to the Mexican military. In response, Toro collaborated with El Gafe to kill him.
The treachery of M-17 had been known for some time, and several Metro Comandantes refused to forget the actions of the crazy and unpredictable Tachas. At the meeting, which occurred on March 23, 2015, “Tachas/M-17” along with him second-in-command, “Nico/M-65” and ten bodyguards were ambushed and killed during the meeting. Although this further framented the Cartel, it served to strenghten the position of El Gafe and El 98, who were also seeking revenge for the betrayal by Tachas of Polimenso. With Tachas out of the way, they gained almost unanimous support for their war against Matamoros.