The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Monday the confiscation of a mouthwatering $3.36 billion worth of Bitcoin connected to the Silk Road dark web fraud. The US DOJ seized this huge amount of Bitcoin from a man who had illegally acquired 50,676 bitcoin on the Silk Road dark web marketplace over ten years ago.
According to a press statement by DOJ on November 7
:The accused, James Zhong of Gainesville, Georgia pleaded guilty on November 4 to committing wire fraud and unlawfully obtaining the cryptocurrency in September 2012.
Zhong is said to have deployed sophisticated measures to hide the loot. Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York said the crime was committed almost a decade ago, with the whereabouts of the Bitcoin remaining unknown. However, with a search warrant, the government seized the assets from Zhong’s home on November 9, 2021.
Damian Williams said the maximum term for the offense is 20 years behind bars.
“James Zhong committed wire fraud over a decade ago when he stole approximately 50,000 Bitcoin from Silk Road. For almost ten years, the whereabouts of this massive chunk of missing Bitcoin had ballooned into an over $3.3 billion mystery.”
“Thanks to state-of-the-art cryptocurrency tracing and good old-fashioned police work, law enforcement located and recovered this impressive cache of crime proceeds. This case shows that we won’t stop following the money, no matter how expertly hidden, even to a circuit board in the bottom of a popcorn tin.
The DOJ said this seizure was then the largest cryptocurrency seizure in the history of the U.S. Department of Justice and today remains the Department’s second largest financial seizure ever.
About Silk Road
Notably, Silk Road was a dark web marketplace created by Ross William Ulbricht in 2011. Specifically, it was an online black market leveraged mainly by drug dealers and other unlawful vendors distributing illicit goods and services. Known for operating for nearly two years, the Silk Road which ran between 2011 and 2013 was an infamous part of the dark web.
The US government later shut down Silk Road, and in 2015, Ulbricht was found guilty on all counts by a jury and given a life sentence.