San Diegans were shocked last December when local headlines linked prominent South Bay figures to a plot to smuggle Muammar Gaddafi’s son out of Africa and into a Mexican resort near Puerto Vallarta.
The alleged international smuggling ring, broken up the previous month in Mexico City, was made up of four people who had been put under house arrest: Cynthia Vanier, a Canadian citizen; Gabriela de Cueto, a Coronado resident and Mexican national; a Danish man; and a Mexican man.
Cynthia Vanier, who is 52 years old, ran a small consulting company in Canada, where she is said to have worked primarily as a mediator for indigenous people. Last year, during the Libyan revolution, a Canadian company called SNC-Lavalin, one of the largest engineering firms in the world, sought Vanier’s help to resume operations. The company had done work in Libya for 25 years but had evacuated most of its employees.
According to a December 8, 2011 story in the Canada National Post, in order to conduct a fact-finding trip to the North African nation last July, Vanier had “contracted a Hawker 800 jet from Veritas Worldwide Security, a San Diego company.” The paper reported that Veritas later agreed to provide Vanier with a Gulfstream jet for more trips.
Gregory Gillispie heads Veritas Worldwide Security. In December, he identified two of the people arrested with Vanier — Coronado resident Gabriela de Cueto and the Danish man — as his business partners.
Prominently featured in local stories about the alleged Gaddafi smuggling plot was Chula Vista police chief David Bejarano, listed as an officer on the website of a company called Veritas Worldwide Solutions.
Few of the questions raised by the arrests in Mexico have been answered. But San Diegans may be more interested in matters closer to home. What are — or were — Veritas Worldwide Solutions and Veritas Worldwide Security?
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Immediately after the story broke in local papers, Veritas Worldwide Solutions began to distance itself from Veritas Worldwide Security. Today, the only remaining sign of Veritas on the internet is its Facebook page.
At the top of the Facebook wall is “Veritas Worldwide Solutions” in bold type. The “Company Overview” section reads: “Headquartered in San Diego, California, Veritas Worldwide Security, Inc. is in the ideal location to provide Personal Security Detachments (PSD) to both American and Mexican clienteles. With kidnapping and border violence at unprecedented highs, VW Security can provide safety and peace of mind for a wide range of domestic and international scenarios.”
Before veritas-worldwide.com, the website the two companies shared, was taken down, its pages described security protection services, tactical training, port and maritime security services, and a training facility, Veritas Worldwide Ranch. “Nestled in the heart of Texas, Veritas Worldwide Ranch (VWR) is also the heart of our companies,” read the ranch page. “Simply put, the Ranch is where the majority of our training will happen.”
Seven vice presidents at Veritas Worldwide Solutions were listed.
Bejarano was the executive vice president of law enforcement training. A biography touted his service in the United States Marines and the San Diego Police Department, where he was chief of police for four years, as well as his time as a United States Marshal, when he chaired a federal narcotics enforcement initiative.
Michael Najera, an ex–port commissioner, was listed as vice president of acquisitions, Gregory Gillispie as vice president of special operations, Antonio Martínez Luna as vice president of Latin American operations, and Joseph Casas, a former candidate for Chula Vista city attorney, as chief executive officer.
Until recently, Casas was listed with the secretary of state as the agent of process for Veritas Worldwide Security, Inc. Now, Gregory Gillispie is listed. The corporation was registered on January 14, 2011.
In a February 27 interview, Casas said that he and Gregory Gillispie had founded both Veritas companies, but Veritas Worldwide Solutions was “in the fledgling stages.” He said he knew nothing about renting a plane to Cynthia Vanier. Casas said he and Gillispie “stopped talking last August. The first time I heard of him doing anything was this Gaddafi smuggling.” Casas said of Gillispie, “I am not sure how he is involved. He told me, ‘Hey, we were just the enterprise renting the car.’ He insists he did not use Veritas’ name.”
According to Casas, his initial understanding with Gillispie was that Veritas Worldwide Security was only to be “a California security company — think of it like a glorified mall cop company. The charter for that company, the role, was only to do work in California.”
Casas said he was familiar with Gabriela de Cueto, the Coronado woman who was arrested with Cynthia Vanier in Mexico. Casas said he knew her through the Hispanic community in San Diego, which he described as small. He said she had sent some clients his way.
He reiterated many times that he condemned the alleged smuggling plot. “We had a structure just like the military: nothing was supposed to be done without the other partner’s knowledge.… If that’s what occurred, it’s a rogue operation, if that’s what it turns out to be.”
A frustrated Casas said he is in the process of dissolving his relationship with Gillispie and the security company. “I spent so much time building a corporate identity, trying to give it a look of truth and justice,” he said. “It takes a long time to make a good name for yourself.”
The Solutions side of Veritas never really got off the ground, according to Casas. “Never had a contract out the door.”
When asked what kind of organization Veritas Worldwide Solutions was intended to be, Casas replied, “The company was formed with the idea of providing training to the United States military and law enforcement forces.”
Often, according to Casas, the Department of Defense doesn’t have enough personnel to run training. For example, “They don’t have enough personnel for explosive-ordnance-disposal type of training. Our mission was to provide that.
“All of the folks that were involved at the time [when the company was conceived] had impressive veteran careers. I mean, you look at Chief Bejarano, for example, he was a distinguished Marine. [We were all] distinguished Marines. We all pride ourselves on dotting our i’s and crossing our t’s.”
See Gregory Gillispie's response to this article.