US Court Finalizes Forfeiture of 69,370 Bitcoin from Silk Road

Hongji Feng
Last updated: | 1 min read
Bitcoin Silk Road
Source: DALL·E

A U.S. appeals court has completed a legal process finalizing the seizure of 69,370 Bitcoin from the Silk Road, the now defunct dark web marketplace.

According to a court filing, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit confirmed the transfer of the Bitcoin to federal control. This enforcement follows an earlier ruling which established the government’s right to the digital assets tied to Silk Road’s illegal activities.

The seized Bitcoin assets also included Bitcoin Gold (BTG), Bitcoin SV (BSV), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH), in addition to Bitcoins.

The Seizure of Silk Road’s Illegal Assets


The initial judgment regarding the Silk Road’s Bitcoin was issued in August. It stemmed from the U.S. Justice Department‘s 2020 seizure and subsequent motion for official forfeiture of the cryptocurrency. At that time, the value of the seized Bitcoin exceeded $1 billion.

The action was triggered by a movement of 69,369 Bitcoins from a wallet address, marking the first significant activity for these assets since 2015. This movement attracted considerable attention, as it involved funds that were traced back to the Silk Road, a platform notorious for its illicit trade in drugs and other illegal items.

Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road, was listed as the respondent in the filing. The site was closed down by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) following the arrest of Ulbricht in late 2013. In 2015, Ulbricht was sentenced to double life imprisonment plus 40 years, without the chance of parole.

U.S. Government: One of the Largest Bitcoin Holders


The U.S. government has become one of the largest holders of Bitcoin through seizures related to criminal activities. Like the Silk Road case, originating from cybercriminals and darknet markets, the confiscated digital assets are securely held in offline, encrypted hardware wallets. These are under the management of several federal agencies, such as the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

However, due to the complex and lengthy legal process, the government does not actively trade or time the market, and the actual liquidation process could take years. During the legal process, the government holds the Bitcoin as evidence or proceeds of the crime.