The US government has seized a whopping $1 billion worth of bitcoin linked to the infamous Silk Road criminal marketplace.
The dark web marketplace helped criminals buy and sell narcotics and other illegal goods and services, using cryptocurrency to stay anonymous.
“According to the allegations of the civil forfeiture complaint, from 2011 until October 2013 when it was seized by law enforcement, Silk Road was the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet,” the DOJ said.
“It served a sprawling black market bazaar where unlawful goods and services were bought and sold regularly by the site’s users. “
According to a press release from the US Attorney’s Office for the North District of California, the recent seizure of Bitcoins represents “the largest cryptocurrency seizure to date.”
“Silk Road was the most notorious online criminal marketplace of its day,” said US Attorney Anderson. “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.”
However, the forfeiture could be temporary, as the federal government will need to prove “by a standard of preponderance of the evidence, that the items are subject to forfeiture. If the United States prevails, the court will order all interests of any potential claimant forfeited,” the DOJ added.
Silk Road was taken down in 2013, following allegations of a civil forfeiture complaint. Its creator, Ross Ulbricht, was arrested and convicted on seven criminal counts in 2015. He is now serving two life terms and an additional 40 years for his role in the illegal operation.