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US Government Moves $300 Million Worth of Silk Road Bitcoin – What’s Going On?

Ruholamin Haqshanas
Last updated: | 2 min read
Source: Unsplash

The US government has moved its Silk Road Bitcoin (BTC) reserve, stirring up speculations about whether it plans a sale of the assets. 

On Wednesday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) transferred $300 million worth of BTC to new addresses in a series of transactions, according to data from Bitcoin block explorer.

The recent transfer likely originates from the DOJ’s seizure of $3.36 billion worth of BTC in 2021, the agency’s most substantial seizure to date.

In November 2021, law enforcement officials apprehended hacker James Zhong, who confessed to stealing digital assets from the illicit Silk Road marketplace. 

The authorities seized 50,676 BTC worth around $3.36 billion at the time. The government has been gradually selling off portions of the stash since then.

In March, they successfully sold $215 million worth of BTC, announcing their intention to dispose of an additional $1.1 billion.

Nevertheless, some have speculated that the US government may be testing liquidity strategies. 

One account associated with batch transactions conducted on March 7, 2023 appears to have profited in the amount of $237,934,919 on 30,174.7 in BTC holdings not currently associated with the July 12 batch of transactions.

However, another account that received 9,825.6 BTC from the DOJ during the March 7 batch distributed those coins among 101 accounts. 

The same account later joined 599 other accounts to send a total of approximately 0.1 BTC to yet another account, which then spread its holdings of approximately 51 BTC across 37 addresses.

Silk Road was an online black market where users could buy and sell illicit goods anonymously. 

It operated via the dark web – anonymous networks that can only be accessed through specialized software like Tor Browser.

The US Has an Impressive Track Record of Seizing Stolen Crypto Funds

Aside from the Bitcoin stolen from Silk Road, the US has also been successful in tracking down stolen funds linked to some other major crypto heists. 

Last year, the US government recovered and seized some $3.6 billion worth of Bitcoin tied to the 2016 hack of the crypto exchange Bitfinex. 

Combined with the Silk Road-related seizure, the US government’s Bitcoin stash accounts for more than 1% of the Botal bitcoin supply of 21 million 

Historically, Bitcoin seized by the US Justice Department have been auctioned off to investors, without the auctions themselves creating much of a market impact at all. 

Worth noting, however, is that the government hasn’t held a major Bitcoin auction for some time now, and it therefore remains unclear exactly when the next one will be.