A former professional soccer player and Hollywood movie investor whose sacked beachfront Tripoli mansion held a Lamborghini, Saadi Gaddafi, 38, was also a commander of his father’s special forces units and a leader in the fight against rebel forces in Libya. He fled into northern Niger with family members in September and sought asylum there. Niger authorities have said they are holding Saadi Gaddafi, who is wanted by Interpol, but they have refused to extradite him.
Mexican officials said Wednesday that the country’s intelligence agents uncovered the plot to bring Saadi Gaddafi and his family to Mexico in September as the rebel uprising was making its final push in Libya. Four suspects, including a Canadian woman identified as the mastermind, are under house arrest in Mexico. The others were identified as a Danish man, a Mexican man and a Mexican woman who resides in the United States.
“The activities of the criminal organization in our country included the falsification of official documents, the opening of bank accounts with false documents and the purchase of real estate that was intended to serve as a residence for the Gaddafi family,” Interior Minister Alejandro Poire said at a news conference Wednesday morning. Details of the alleged plot were first reported by the National Post in Canada.
One of the properties included a mansion in the Punta Mita resort area north of Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast.
Poire said the planners jetted around Mexico and visited Middle East countries in support of their plot.
“The large economic resources which this criminal organization has, or had, allowed them to contract private flights,” Poire said.
Poire said the leader of the plot was a Canadian woman he identified as Cynthia Vanier. Poire said Vanier “was the direct contact with the Gaddafi family and the leader of the group, and presumably was the person in charge of the finances of the operation.”
Gary Peters, director of Can/Aust Security and Investigations International, based in Ontario, Canada, told the Associated Press that he had worked as Saadi Gaddafi’s North America security chief. He confirmed that Gaddafi planned to travel to Mexico because “he was interested in buying property there in Punta Mita.” Peters guessed that Saadi had probably read about the resort in a magazine.
Moammar Gaddafi was driven from power in Tripoli in late August. He was captured and killed Oct. 20 after fleeing his home town, Sirte, with a few remaining loyalists, including his son Mutassim, who was also slain. Another son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, was captured Nov. 19 on the border with Niger.