US DOJ announces seizure of $3.36 billion in cryptocurrency • TechCrunch

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The US Department of Justice on Monday announced that law enforcement seized $3.36 billion in bitcoin from a man who “illegally acquired” more than 50,000 bitcoin from the dark web marketplace Silk Road over a decade ago.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York said James Zhong, of Gainesville, Georgia, pleaded guilty Nov. 4 to wire fraud in September 2012. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

The request came nearly a year after law enforcement seized 50,676,17851897 bitcoins, then worth more than $3.36 billion, from Zhong’s home, the statement said. Officials found the bitcoin in an underground safe and on a single desktop computer hidden under blankets in a popcorn can located in a bathroom cabinet.

Law enforcement also recovered $661,900 in cash, 25 Coins of Casascius bitcoin (valued at about 174 bitcoin), another 11,116 bitcoin and a handful of silver and gold colored bars.

The whereabouts of this massive amount of bitcoin was a mystery for nearly 10 years, US Attorney Damian Williams said in the release.

It was the largest cryptocurrency seizure in the history of the US Department of Justice at the time, and today it remains the department’s second-largest financial seizure, it said.

The Silk Road was an online black market launched in 2011 by the then-anonymous “Dread Pirate Roberts” (later revealed as Ross Ulbricht, It was notorious for money laundering activities and for buying and selling illegal drugs with bitcoin. In less than two years, Silk Road was shut down by the US government, and in 2015, Ulbricht was unanimously convicted by a jury and sentenced to life in prison.

“This case shows that we will not stop following the money, no matter how skillfully it is hidden, even to a printed circuit board in the bottom of a popcorn can,” Williams said.

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