, MEXICO CITY, Dec 7 – Mexican officials said on Wednesday they foiled a plan in September to smuggle one of Muammar Gaddafi’s sons and other family members of the former Libyan leader into the country.
Government Secretary Alejandro Poire said Mexican intelligence officials uncovered the plot, at the height of pro-democracy protests in the north African nation, to bring Saadi Gaddafi and other relatives into Mexico on false papers.
Poire said Mexican authorities had broken up a well-funded ring involving people from different nationalities, including Mexicans, Canadians and a Danish national who had bought properties in Mexico “to be used as safe houses.”
On September 6, “Mexican intelligence detected an illegal entry plan by Saadi Gaddafi and his family,” Poire told reporters.
“The government avoided that risk and broke up an international network aimed at providing them with false identities as Mexicans,” he said, adding that the plan appeared to be preparing to use private flights to fly Gaddafi’s relatives to an area on Mexico’s Pacific coast, he said.
Gaddafi was going to use the name of Daniel Bejar, officials added.
Government spokesman Alejandro Sota said Mexico’s “Operation Guest” led to the “capture and disruption of the network, which will face justice for alleged crimes related to the use of false documents, trafficking individuals and organized crime.”
Poire said the ringleader was a Canadian woman who had a direct link with the family. Also arrested was a US-based Mexican woman handling contacts in Mexico, and a Dane in charge of forging the documents.
Mexico has been under a harsh spotlight in the last few years as President Felipe Calderon’s war on drug traffickers has failed to stem the tide of violence that has left some 45,000 people dead and terrorized communities across the nation.
Poire insisted that the success in foiling the Gaddafi plot demonstrated “the ability of Mexican authorities” to contribute to regional security.
Saadi Gaddafi 38, fled Libya across its southern frontier to Niger in August during the fall of Tripoli amid the protests against his authoritarian father’s 42-year regime.
Last month Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou announced his government granted Saadi asylum “for humanitarian reasons.”
Muammar Gaddafi and another of his sons were killed in October after their capture in Libya by forces loyal to the National Transitional Council.
Libya’s new leadership wants Saadi Gaddafi to stand trial for crimes allegedly committed while heading the country’s football federation.
Another son, Seif al-Islam, has been captured and the International Criminal Court has called on Libya’s new leaders to inform them if and when they intend to hand him over to face charges for crimes against humanity.