WASHINGTON: The United States Justice Department announced it had seized over $1 billion worth of bitcoin associated with the underground criminal syndicate and online marketplace Silk Road.
The Justice Department said it was seeking the forfeiture of the cryptocurrency, which had been in the possession of an unnamed hacker who stole them from the notorious website. It is the largest cryptocurrency seizure ever made by the US government, the department added.
The government will now try to prove in court the items are subject to forfeiture. In the past, the government has later auctioned off forfeited cryptocurrency.
The funds were taken by law enforcement after being traced to a bitcoin address by an unnamed ‘Individual X,” according to a statement by US Department of Justice. It was further determined that Individual X had hacked the funds from Silk Road, it added.
The DOJ said it filed a civil complaint that the funds are subject to forfeiture, adding that it expects to prove the case to the court.
“Silk Road was the most notorious online criminal marketplace of its day,” said US Attorney Kelly Anderson of the Northern District of California.
“The successful prosecution of Silk Road’s founder in 2015 left open a billion-dollar question. Where did the money go? Today’s forfeiture complaint answers this open question at least in part. $1 billion of these criminal proceeds are now in the United States’ possession.”
Silk Road was seized by the government in 2013, with officials describing the underground website as a massive illegal drug and money laundering marketplace.
In 2015, The website’s accused creator Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of masterminding the criminal website Silk Road, which sold $200 million in drugs to customers worldwide. The website’s accused creator,
Ulbricht ran Silk Road under the alias “Dread Pirate Roberts” and was accused of commissioning five murders at a cost of $650,000 abd was sentenced to two life sentences for narcotics distribution and criminal enterprise.