The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Monday that it had seized more than $3.36 billion in bitcoins from a man who a decade ago illegally obtained more than 50,000 bitcoins on the online marketplace Silk. Road (Route of the Silk), in the dark Network (also known as ‘darknet’, in English). This is the largest cryptocurrency confiscation made by the DOJ to date and the second financial seizure in the entire history of the institution.
The information about the seizure was made public after James Zhong, from Gainesville, Georgia, pleaded guilty on November 4 to having committed wire fraud in September 2012, a crime for which he can face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
As for the seizure, it occurred on November 9, 2021, when the security organs seized some 50,491 bitcoins in the criminal’s house. Agents found the assets in a safe and a computer that was hidden under blankets in a popcorn tin kept in a bathroom cabinet.
Likewise, more than 661,000 dollars in cash, 25 Casascius coins (physical bitcoins, valued at about 174 digital currencies), 11 more bitcoins, as well as several gold and silver bars were confiscated.
The Silk Road was an online black market launched in 2011 by the then anonymous ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’ (‘The fearsome pirate Roberts’, later identified as Ross Ulbricht). The platform achieved notoriety for hosting money laundering activities and the sale of illegal drugs with the use of bitcoins. In less than two years, the US government closed it down and in 2015, Ulbricht was unanimously sentenced by a jury to life in prison.