US government seizes $1 billion in Bitcoin from former dark web drug market Silk Road

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The United States government has seized more than $1 billion in Bitcoin after dismantling notorious dark web superstore Silk Road. Filing a civil complaint today to forfeit the cryptocurrency, the Department of Justice said the currency represents the largest seizure of cryptocurrency in the government’s history. The cryptocurrency was seized during the dismantling of Silk Road between 2011 and October 2013, during which the government brought in law enforcement due to the nature of goods being sold on the site.

“When it was seized by law enforcement, Silk Road was the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet” the Department of Justice said in a statement.” It served a sprawling black market bazaar where unlawful goods and services were bought and sold regularly by the site’s users.” The complaint alleges that while in operation, Silk Road was used by thousands of drug dealers and other unlawful vendors to distribute hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs as well as other unlawful goods and services to well over 100,000 buyers, and to launder hundreds of millions of dollars derived from these unlawful transactions.”

While the currency was seized on November 3 this year, today’s civil complaint is the first step towards the government permanently owning the funds.” Silk Road was the most notorious online criminal marketplace of its day,” said US Attorney David L. 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.”

Special Agent in charge of the seizure Kelly R. Jackson said the US Government was working continuously to overthrow online illegal activity.”Criminal proceeds should not remain in the hands of the thieves. Through CI’s expertise in following the money, we were able to track down the illicit funds,” said Ms Jackson.” The Washington DC Cyber Crimes Unit is uniquely specialised in tracing virtual currency transactions and we will continue to hone our skills to combat illegal activity.”

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