One of Moammar Gadhafi's sons planned to slip secretly into Mexico shortly after his escape from Libya, but the international plot was thwarted by Mexican intelligence agents, a top Mexican government official said today.
The alleged plan to bring Saadi Gadhafi and his family into Mexico, dubbed "Operation Huesped," meaning "Guest," was revealed by Mexican Interior Secretary Alejandro Poire at a news conference. The elaborate scheme involved the use of false Mexican identities, several safe houses and a criminal gang that included a Mexican residing in the U.S., a Canadian and a Dane, Poire said.
The conspirators, according to Poire, used "large economic resources" to fly into Mexico to open bank accounts and procure potential safe houses ahead of Saadi's arrival. But though Saadi did manage to escape Libya for neighboring Niger in September, he never made the trip across the Atlantic Ocean and is believed to still be in Niger.
Four suspects are being held in connection to the plot for allegedly falsifying documents, among other charges, and an investigation is still ongoing, Poire said.
Saadi is one of the Gadhafi sons, along with Saif al-Arab and Hannibal, described as "ne'er-do-wells" in a 2009 U.S. State Department cable released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.
"Hannibal and Saadi both have checkered histories of unseemly behavior and public scuffles with authorities in Europe and elsewhere," one cable said.
Saadi played professional soccer in Libya but was never able to make his mark in the far-more competitive Italian football leagues, cycling through three teams between 2004 and 2007 and only appearing in games twice. He reportedly failed a drug test at Perugia and played all of ten minutes for Udinese.
In February, as a popular uprising gained strength and international pressure on Libya increased, Saadi joked in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Christiane Amanpour that he was worried about not being able to go on safari, but called the rising Arab Spring an unstoppable "earthquake."
Saadi was reportedly captured by rebels in August, but later the rebel Libyan ambassador to Washington, Ali Suleiman Aujali, told ABC News that the rebels never claimed they had Al-Saadi in custody.
Though two of Saadi's siblings were reportedly killed in the fighting in Libya, his sister Aisha and brothers Hannibal and Muhammad managed to escape to Algeria in August. Saif al-Islam, one of the most high-profile Gadhafi children and the one U.S. officials saw as a possible heir to the dictatorship, was captured by rebel forces in southern Libya last month.
ABC News' Mark Schone contributed to this report.