US Sanctions Nicaraguan Gold Miners and Russian Training Center


Treasury is imposing sanctions on three Nicaragua-based entities, the Training Center of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs in Managua (RTC); Compania Minera Internacional, S.A. (COMINTSA); and Capital Mining Investment Nicaragua, S.A.  

The RTC is a Nicaragua-based subdivision of the Government of the Russian Federation’s (GOR) Ministry of Internal Affairs, and is a "key actor in the Nicaraguan regime’s repression of civil society and unjust detention and imprisonment of individuals for expressing dissent, or otherwise peacefully exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms," according to the OFAC statement.

The designations of COMINTSA and Capital Mining target government-affiliated gold companies generating revenue for the Ortega-Murillo regime. Gold is Nicaragua’s top commodity export.

“By leveraging the training it receives from the Russia-backed RTC and the revenue it generates from exploiting the gold sector, the Ortega-Murillo regime has continued its anti-democratic campaign of repression against its citizens,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E. Nelson. “The United States remains committed to using our tools to support the Nicaraguan people, including by constraining the Ortega-Murillo regime’s ability to fund its oppressive and destabilizing activities.”

These actions are being taken in response to the Ortega-Murillo regime’s continued repression of the people of Nicaragua and continued exploitation of vulnerable migrants, including via the facilitation and profiting off of irregular migration to the United States.

The Training Center of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs in Managua

 Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs established a training center in Managua to provide specialized courses for the Nicaraguan National Police (NNP) and law enforcement of other Latin American countries. OFAC designated the NNP, the primary law enforcement entity in Nicaragua, on March 5, 2020. 

Since its opening in Managua in October 2017, the RTC has been operating in Managua, training members of the NNP as part of a bilateral engagement between Nicaragua and Russia, . The NNP is a repressive state apparatus, carrying out extrajudicial killings, using live ammunition against peaceful protests, and even participating in death squads. The RTC in Nicaragua, by admission of President Ortega himself, trains Nicaraguan law enforcement officers to better confront “coup plotters,” referring to those citizens who dare to publicly voice their opposition to the regime.

Nicaraguan Mining Industry

In October 2022,  President Biden expanded June 2022 sanctions by executive order, exposing individuals and companies with financial ties to the United States and doing business with Nicaragua’s gold industry to sanctions.  

“This was the first time an entire sector of the Nicaraguan economy was restricted. However, almost two years after the signing of the executive order, the sanctions have yet to be enforced, allowing the gold sector to continue to expand and generate huge revenues for the Ortega regime,” notes The Oakland Institute.   

Among the top 10 companies with mining concessions in Nicaragua, Canadian companies collectively rank first for land under concession. Concessions of Calibre Mining Corp. and Mako Mining Corp. cover 64 percent of all land under metallic mining concessions – 10 percent of Nicaragua’s landmass.m.  Zhong Fu Development S.A., a Chinese company, is the second largest, with seven concessions granted in October 2023 that make up nine percent of the total awarded land for metallic mining concessions. 

Wednesday's actions were limited to two indigenous entities.  

Compania Minera Internacional, S.A.(COMINTSA)

COMINTSA is a Nicaraguan mining company and one of several regime-aligned companies that operate or have operated in Nicaragua’s gold sector. Having revoked the license for operations from another artisanal mining company, the General Directorate of Mines granted COMINTSA concession areas for exploration and extraction of gold in the in the Autonomous Region of the North Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua in 2023. 

Capital Mining Investment Nicaragua, S.A.

Capital Mining is a Nicaraguan mining company and one of several regime-aligned companies that operate in Nicaragua’s gold sector. Capital Mining is an intermediary in the gold sector controlled by Laureano Ortega Murillo,, the son of President Ortega and Vice President Murillo, and Mansell Castrillo that is known to charge some gold mining companies to do business in Nicaragua.

Visa Restrictions, Travel Industry Advisory

In addition to the sanctions issued by OFAC today, the United States Department of State is issuing over 250 visa restrictions for Nicaraguan officials, and the Departments of Treasury, State and Homeland Security, are jointly issuing a business advisory titled "Policy Alert on Disrupting Irregular Migration:  Best Practices in Response to Recent Developments in the Aviation Sector."

This advisory reflects the U.S. government’s efforts to promote responsible practices in the industry, prevent and disrupt illicit activity, and enhance compliance with lawful immigration and migration pathways.

A recent Congressional Resaearch Service Report notes Nicaragua’s limited entry requirements for Haitians and Cubans, among others, make it an attractive transit country for irregular migration to the United States.

From June 2023 to November 2023, more than 500 charter flights, mainly from Haiti and Cuba, arrived in Nicaragua. Such flights reportedly pay landing fees and carry passengers who pay thousands of dollars per seat and entry taxes to the Ortega government with the intention of migrating to the United States. In addition to profiting from these flights, some observers assert that the Ortega administration is “weaponizing migration” to exert pressure on the United States.


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