The Silk Road made a small fortune during its two and a half years as the web’s biggest anonymous black market for illegal drugs. As of Friday, at least one $28.5 million chunk of that fortune now belongs to the FBI.
An FBI official tells me that the bureau has located and seized a collection of 144,000 bitcoins, the largest seizure of that cryptocurrency ever, worth close to $28.5 million at current exchange rates. It believes that the stash belonged to Ross Ulbricht, the 29-year-old who allegedly created and managed the Silk Road, the popular anonymous drug-selling that site was taken offline by the Department of Justice after Ulbricht was arrested earlier this month and charged with engaging in a drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracy as well as computer hacking and attempted murder-for-hire.
The FBI official wouldn’t say how the agency had determined that the Bitcoin “wallet”–a collection of Bitcoins at a single address in the Bitcoin network–belonged to Ulbricht, but that it was sure they were his. “This is his wallet,” said the FBI official. “We seized this from DPR,” the official added, referring to the pseudonym “the Dread Pirate Roberts,” which prosecutors say Ulbricht allegedly used while running the Silk Road.