The US Department of Justice announced that law enforcement seized $3.36 billion in bitcoin from a man who “illegally obtained”. And he obtained more than 50,000 bitcoin from the dark web market Silk Road more than a decade ago.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced on November 4 that James Zhong of Gainesville, Georgia, pleaded guilty to wire fraud in September 2012. The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.
The plea came nearly a year after law enforcement seized 50,676.17851897 bitcoin from Zhong’s home. Which was then valued at more than $3.36 billion, according to the statement. The bitcoin was discovered in an underground floor safe. And on a single-board computer hidden beneath blankets in a popcorn tin placed in a bathroom closet.
Law enforcement also recovered $661,900 in cash, 25 Casascius bitcoin coins (worth approximately 174 bitcoin), an additional 11.116 bitcoin, and a few silver and gold-colored bars.
The whereabouts of this massive amount had been a mystery for nearly ten years, according to Attorney Damian Williams.
It was the most significant cryptocurrency seizure in the history of the United States Department of Justice. At the time, it is still the department’s second-largest financial seizure today, according to the statement.
Silk Road was an online black market founded by the then-anonymous “Dread Pirate Roberts” in 2011. It was notorious for money laundering and the purchase and sale of illegal drugs using bitcoin. The Silk Road was shut down by the US government in less than two years, and by 2015, Ulbricht had been unanimously convicted by a jury and sentenced to life in prison.