Published Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Protesters lift blockades in Abangares
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Leaders of the miners in the Abangares District in Guanacaste Province reached an accord with the government to lift the blockades on the streets and on the North Inter-American route between San José and Guanacaste.
The agreement includes the following demands:
• On September 21, the government will publish for public consultation the amendments to Law No. 8904, to formalize or legalize the miners in the area.
• The government will review the gold export policies regarding samples or materials with and without commercial value.
• The government will carry out the reforms to Bill No. 21229, to incorporate the twelve-month moratorium to grant permits for exporting gold to artisanal and small-scale mining organizations.
• The government will build a site for the commercialization of gold with an investment of approximately $167,000.
• Through the Help Institute and the Municipality of Abangares, help will be given to 260 families who are living in poverty.
• A moratorium will be processed on the suspension of electricity services due to non-payment of the Abangares families.
• Medical attention will be given to miners through Social Security.
• The government will analyze the current state of the mining territories to free up more areas for the development of mining.
Miners must, in addition to waiting for the fulfillment of the commitments made by the government and lifting the blockades in the streets, exclusively buy legal mercury for exporting gold.
The suspension of the exploitation of gold in mines
located in Abangares is due to an investigation that
develops in the Public Ministry on an alleged
criminal organization dedicated to extracting gold
from the area known as Crucitas in Guanacaste
Province and sending them to the United
In August, the Prosecutor Office of Legitimation of
Capitals confirmed that it requested pre-trial
measures to 14 of the 26 suspects of illegally
extracting gold and sending shipments to the United
According to the Prosecutor, 12 people were arrested
and released without precautionary measures or
pre-trial, because they are linked to less serious
The people arrested for this case were identified by
the Prosecutor's Office as Costa Ricans and foreigners
with the surnames: Rodríguez-Agüero, two people with
surnames Agüero-Chaves, Vega-Sánchez, Santos-Soto,
Lanzoni-Vindas, Lanzoni-Cerdas, Cerdas-Chacón, two
people with López, Espinoza- Pérez, Quesada-Vega,
Peña-Bill, Zúñiga-Villalobos, Salín-Méndez,
López-Marín, Morún-Picado, Morún-Naranjo,
Segnini-Sabat, Alfaro-Sánchez, Vásquez- Blanco, two
people Centeno- Condega, Miranda-Muñoz, Cerdas-Chacón,
These suspects' arrest took place when the Judicial
Investigation Organization, OIJ, agents made 32 raids
at the homes and workplaces of the suspects, such as
farms, companies, places where gold was extracted, and
places where the material was processed.
The raids were carried out in San Isidro, Santo
Domingo, Guararí, Montelimar, San Pedro de Montes de
Oca, Escazú, San Sebastián, Barrio Escalante, Pocosol,
Coopevega, San Ramón, Abangares and Puerto Jiménez,
the prosecutor's report said.
Judicial agents arrested 26 people, including 21 men
and 5 women as suspects of committing the crimes of
illegal mining, environmental and money laundering.
Agents also seized $134,393 in cash, ten vehicles,
explosives, gold, drugs, firearms and important
documentation for the investigation.
According to the judicial agents between 2018 and
2020, the suspects exported approximately 2,500 kilos
of gold valued at $60 million to the United States.
However, that amount was calculated based on the
values reported in the export customs documents. The
Prosecutor is currently in the process of estimating
the real amount paid by gold buyers.
The alleged illegal miners extracted gold from
unauthorized mines that were open in the areas of
Crucitas District in Alajuela Province, Abangares
District in Guanacaste Province, and Corcovado
National Park in Puntarenas Province, the prosecutor
The valuable mineral extracted was then handed over to
people who were engaged in gold processing in
clandestine places in Guanacaste Province. There, the
gold was turned into bullion or a flat bar, then the
gold was exported to the United States. Other
shipments were illegally transferred to Nicaragua.
The roles identified to the suspect's range from
managing farms in Crucitas, obtaining the gold in the
form of sediments, processing the gold, selling or
storing gold in houses, making accounting and
financial reports, among many others.
A group of suspects was in charge of financing the
purchases of that material in exchange for some
patrimonial benefit and provided false evidence as
cattle sales. Another group of suspects was in charge
of justifying in the banks the amounts of money they
received as a result of money laundering.
Another group of suspects was in charge of processing
gold and exporting the mineral through companies
exporting directly from the Juan Santamaría
International Airport. The export was made under the
false justification that it was scrap gold, the
Due to the closure of borders at the Juan Santamaría
International Airport, as one of the measures to
mitigate the pandemic, the suspects used other
companies dedicated to the transport of merchandise
abroad, to ensure the continuity of the export of gold
and money laundering, the prosecutor said.
Another group of suspects gave financial and
accounting advice. They used false invoices to give a
legal appearance of the money obtained with the export
of the gold.
An employee of the Ministry of Finance is one of the
suspects, who is allegedly in charge of advising other
suspects on how to hide the illegal business.
Among other discoveries by investigators, they found
that the chemical substances used for extracting the
gold, such as mercury and cyanide, were sent to the
Crucitas area from San José, by another group of
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