© Reuters. Australia’s record bitcoin bust drives police back to Silk Road
Australia’s Victoria state police have seized nearly $6 million in online drug traffickers, the largest cryptocurrency seizure ever made in the country. Police also seized cannabis, Psilocin, MDMA, prescription drugs and “white powder and crystals”.
“This is the 21st century version of drug trafficking and money laundering, with criminals using technology to allow immense harm and misery to the community,” said Mick Frewen of Victoria Police Command.
A 31-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man were arrested and interviewed, before being released pending further investigation. The Age, a local news portal, reported that police are investigating the duo’s activities on the now-defunct Silk Road website.
According to police, the arrests and seizures were part of an investigation started in 2021 into “drug trafficking on a dark web platform that dates back to 2012”. This description perfectly matches Silk Road, the first modern dark market.
Silk Road was one of the first sites that allowed users to shop at . The site was a platform for selling legal and illegal items, and was eventually shut down by the FBI in 2013. According to a 2013 Mashable analysis, the site generated about $1.2 billion in sales in two years.
Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht (also known as “Dread Pirate Roberts”) was arrested in an FBI police raid in 2013. Convicted on charges of money laundering, piracy and conspiracy to smuggle narcotics, Ulbricht was sentenced to double imprisonment life without the possibility of parole.
Ulbricht has become something of a storied cause for cryptocurrency advocates, with a petition to release him accumulating 200,000 signatures in 2019, and a billboard in Times Square calling for his release appearing in 2020.
Then President Trump’s hopes for clemency were, however, dashed when Ulbricht was not cited amid a flurry of pardons in Trump’s final days in office.
Many of the site’s bitcoins were seized by the US government and auctioned off, something authorities may have reason to regret.
With the price of Bitcoin skyrocketing since 2013, the government has lost billions of dollars from the sale. In July 2014, venture investor Tim Draper bought nearly 30,000 BTC seized from Silk Road.
However, some of the site’s money remains unexplained, with up to 444,000 BTC worth $20 billion at current prices still missing.
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