The U.S. government has announced its intention to sell $130 million worth of Bitcoin (BTC) that was confiscated in connection with the Silk Road darknet marketplace.
According to the government’s statement , they plan to dispose of two separate lots of Bitcoin as directed by the U.S. Attorney General.
These lots include 2,874.9 BTC, valued at approximately $129 million, and a smaller lot of 58.7 BTC, estimated at $3.3 million.
The notice issued also permits third parties, excluding defendants, to assert their interest in the confiscated property through an ancillary petition.
This opportunity is available for a period of 60 days starting from January 10. Additionally, the notice provides for the submission of petitions for remission or mitigation, which could potentially lead to the exemption of some or all of the seized Bitcoin from being forfeited.
The Bitcoin set for U.S. government sale originally belonged to two individuals involved in separate criminal activities. The first batch was confiscated from Ryan Farace , a Maryland man convicted alongside his father in a money laundering scheme linked to darknet Xanax sales .
This lot also includes Bitcoin stolen by Sean Bridges , a former U.S. Secret Service agent who was involved in the Silk Road investigations and pilfered Bitcoin earlier seized by the government. The second, smaller batch was exclusively seized from Bridges.
These seizures occurred on February 10, 2021, in Memphis, Tennessee, and May 11, 2021, in Arlington, Virginia, respectively. A Maryland District Court ordered the forfeiture of this Bitcoin to the U.S. government on January 8, 2024.
“The United States hereby gives notice of its intent to dispose of the forfeited property in such manner as the United States Attorney General may direct,” court documents stated .
These assets are just a fraction of the Silk Road-related Bitcoin seizures made by the U.S. government. Previous significant seizures include Bitcoin from Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht around 2013, $3.6 billion from James Zhong in 2022, and approximately $1 billion around 2020.
As of December 2023, the U.S. government’s Bitcoin holdings were valued at about $9 billion, not all of which stemmed from Silk Road-related seizures.
The impending auction of the seized Bitcoin marks a critical moment in the fight against the financial operations supporting illegal dark web marketplaces such as Silk Road. This step taken by the U.S. government underlines its commitment to combating cybercrime and emphasizes the growing significance of cryptocurrencies in both lawful and unlawful activities.
This auction, involving a significant volume of Bitcoin, could potentially influence the cryptocurrency market, though the extent of this effect is yet to be determined. The event is poised to draw significant interest from cryptocurrency investors and observers monitoring the government’s continuous efforts to counter cybercrime and illegal online activities.