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Did Veritas aim to be a private military contractor, similar to Blackwater? “No, the organization was more about training,” said Casas. “Our intent was not to become an operator like Blackwater.… Obviously, if we were able to land a contract with the Department of Defense, that would be something we wouldn’t say no to.”

Organizations like Blackwater “have gotten a bad rap, acted like cowboys,” according to Casas. It was his goal to “ provide quality service…that passes the smell test…, but if a contract would have come up in the future, yeah, we would have entertained it.”

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The Veritas website implied that the companies had international as well as national aspirations. Antonio Martínez Luna was Veritas Worldwide Solutions’ vice president of Latin American operations. Before his name disappeared from the website in December, his biographical entry said that Luna, an attorney, “was the Port Director in Tijuana Baja California and Reynosa Tamaulipas and Chief of Customs of Tijuana Baja California Airport…. Mr. Martínez’s last public post was as the Attorney General for the State of Baja California,” where he “was responsible for coordinating the fight against organized crime in Baja California.”

Five years ago, in 2007, when Luna was Baja’s attorney general, the weekly Tijuana newspaper Zeta posted a videotape on its website. The tape contained an accusation believed to have been extracted through force. On the tape, José Ramón Velásquez Molina, a former commander of Tijuana police and an alleged cartel hitman, accused Luna, or El Blindado — the armored one — of working with the Sinaloa cartel against the Arellano Félix cartel. Molina’s corpse was later dumped in front of the home of Luna’s girlfriend.

A Los Angeles Times blog article written around that time reported that Luna traveled in an armored car, the reason he was “supposedly referred to in the criminal underworld as ‘El Blindado.’” The article also mentioned a corrido — a Mexican ballad — posted on YouTube in which “a Mexican Norteño band sings a death threat against the attorney general.”

Adela Navarro Bello, general director of Zeta, said in an email exchange that Luna left office at the end of 2007, at the conclusion of Governor Eugenio Elorduy Walther’s term. “There was never an investigation of [Luna],” she said. “Today he is a resident of the United States.”

The Los Angeles Times referred to the videotape in a 2009 story about Calexico titled “One Mexico border city is quiet, maybe too quiet.” The article states, “Officials in Mexico and the U.S. have suspected government ties to the Sinaloa cartel since a videotaped confession of a cartel gunman surfaced two years ago, alleging that former state Att. Gen. Antonio Martinez Luna was taking payoffs. Martinez Luna has vehemently denied the accusation.”

When National Public Radio spoke with Luna in 2007, he said the charges were made only to discredit him and his work against the drug gangs. He told NPR, “I’ve never dealt and I never will deal with organized crime as far as providing any kind of assistance.”

Casas was asked in the February 27 interview why Luna was a Veritas Worldwide Solutions vice president. Casas said that Luna was a personal friend and was going to help get contracts in Mexico. “He was going to help us with eventually doing business down in Latin America, although that never really got off the ground, either.”

Casas said he had hoped to help Mexico combat the war on drugs. “I made several attempts to really provide quality training to the Mexican government, and either they didn’t want it or they just don’t care. They don’t want outsiders helping them.”

∗ ∗ ∗

On February 3, 2012, the Mexican government charged Cynthia Vanier, Gabriela de Cueto, and their two colleagues with organized crime, attempted human trafficking, and falsifying documents. (In February, a judge recently dismissed the organized crime and document falsification against the men according to a New York Times report.)

Mexican authorities say the investigation is still open, and according to a February 9 story in Mexican news source 24 Horas, the Mexican attorney general is interested in five more suspects, including Gregory Gillispie, head of Veritas Worldwide Security, and Stéphane Roy, who recently left SNC-Lavalin, where he had been a vice president.

As for Veritas Worldwide Solutions, Casas said he is in the process of restructuring and plans to let the organization “lie low for a while.” He is contemplating dissolving it, as he had only wanted a company with “good business ethics and good business protocol.”

See Gregory Gillispie's response to this article.

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Comments

anniej March 28, 2012 @ 6:14 p.m.

the writer of this article continues to impress all those who pick up or pull up (internet) "The Reader" with factual interesting reading.

i must admit i felt a bit safer prior to reading the article than i did after reading it. it appears identifying the 'good guys' is becoming ever increasingly more difficult.

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Susan Luzzaro March 29, 2012 @ 9:33 p.m.

thank you anniej. Writing the article to me was a reminder--Chula Vista seems so provincial but is, after all, very international.

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mayalindag April 3, 2012 @ 3:51 p.m.

I worked for a while for Mr. Casas and his comments “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.” seems somewhat of a joke to me. I know for first hand the image he is trying to portray is a misconstrued perception of reality.

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