Ryder was a traitor just as much as smoke. You don't have to be the brains to be a traitor. I do think Ryder went out in a good way. He was a gangster till the end, instead of screaming or crying his final words were a big f-you to his killer. Sure, they both sold out on Sweet's principles, but while Smoke tried to be a celebrity, Ryder knew he was just another thug from LS. I thought that was pretty cool.
Ryder dies in Pier 69, which IMO is the most memorable mission of the III era. I think Ryder was written off at this point specifically for emotional effect. Killing Mendez might seem mundane in itself. But with Ryder there to it makes for a big scene.
@MyDog Yeah, a lot of times CJ will just talk and talk about Smoke and cluelessly leave out Ryder. The writer's didn't plan to have Ryder betray GSF at first so I think it's just leftover dialogue. But it's still kind of weird. What the game really needed was a bigger view of what the Smoke/Ryder operation was. We see the connect (Loco Syndicate), the protect (C.R.A.S.H), but the inner workings and rise to power? Would have been interesting.
Honestly I just want to know what kind of deal Smoke and CRASH made with the Russians and the Vagos. They intimidated them a lot, but like what was said? I always pictured them either killing off the leaders and replacing them with CRASH puppet leaders (king of like Smoke was supposed to be), or basically enslaving them. The Vagos leaders weren't that happy with the arrangement seeing as how they gave up his location to Sweet and Carl.