Longtime general manager for Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia., Samuel Arturo Méndez Carrasco, 44, was found dead yesterday. Reports say that he committed suicide via a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
"He was my right hand," said Carlos "Carlito" Fuente Jr. to Cigar Aficionado. "He was my assistant, he was my shadow."
According to official accounts by Dominican news sources Listin Diario and Diario Libre, Méndez's body was discovered in Santiago in a parked Ford Explorer SUV yesterday afternoon. Inside the car, local authorities also found a letter addressed to his family.
Besides being an instrumental part of Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia. (makers of Arturo Fuente and Fuente Fuente OpusX cigars), Méndez was also a second army lieutenant in the Dominican Reserves.
"Sammy was such a charming guy," added Fuente. "He loved tobacco. He was with me since he was a young man. He was so bright. Sammy knew about everything. He was a scientist. A perfect gentleman. Never had anything negative to say about anyone. He's been my right hand for many, many years."
Méndez had worked for Fuente since 1995 and oversaw everything from factory production to tobacco fermentation and classification. After years of training, Méndez became the general manager in 2000, improving quality control and manufacturing techniques in the Fuente factory.
Méndez was a spokesperson for the Fuente company, giving walking tours of the Fuente factory to many international visitors. He also represented Fuente at major cigar events like the ProCigar Festival and the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers trade show.
"In my heart, he was a Fuente," Fuente said. "He was like my son, my brother. It's a loss that's impossible to replace. There won't be another Sammy."
He is survived by his wife, Brenda, and two children, Camila and Diego.
[Update: name clarification]