Earlier this week, bitcoin community shocked when it emptied a digital wallet containing about $ 1 billion in bitcoin. This wallet is believed to have come from the Silk Road drug market, and was emptied by an unknown person. Eventually, however, those responsible for the transfer of funds were revealed: it was the US government.
The Ministry of Justice he said on Thursday that it acquired the contents of the wallet (approximately 70.000 bitcoin) with the help of an anonymous hacker, whose identity is known to the government, but is simply referred to as "Individual X" in court documents.
"Individual X" allegedly broke the Silk Road payment system sometime in 2012 or 2013. The government says Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht, who is currently serving a double life sentence + 40 years for the role on the site, "threatened Individual X for the return of the coins", but the unknown hacker refused. On November 3, Individual X agreed to hand over the bitcoins to the US government and help transfer the money. It is not clear whether this person was arrested or how the co-operation was achieved.
In a press release, U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson cited the operation as a major success for the government.
"The successful prosecution of the founder of Silk Road in 2015 left a question of billions of dollars. Where did the money go? ”
Silk Road was "the most advanced criminal market" on the Internet, the Department of Justice said, and operated from 2011 to 2013, before it went offline with the FBI. The US government estimates that the site generated approximately 600.000 bitcoins during this period. About 175.000 of them were seized when Ulbricht was arrested and the site shut down in October 2013.
The Justice Department did not say what it intended to do with the $ 1 billion, but it has done so in the past.