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U.S. Moves $2B Silk Road Bitcoin Ahead of Potential Sale, On-Chain Clues Suggest

On April 3, U.S. authorities initiated a significant step toward liquidating $2 billion worth of Bitcoin seized from the Silk Road, with a test transaction to Coinbase signaling imminent sale. This move marks a pivotal moment in the government's handling of digital assets obtained from criminal investigations following a March sale of 10,000 BTC.

Test Transaction Signals Imminent Sale of $2B in Seized Silk Road Bitcoin

According to on-chain data (via Bloomberg), a 0.001 BTC test transaction, part of an enormous stash of approximately 30,174 BTC worth $2 billion, was transferred. The U.S. government moved the funds associated with the infamous Silk Road marketplace.

Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States, accepted transactions from these Silk Road funds. Arkham Intelligence first identified the source of the BTC and its destination at Coinbase. The goal of this transaction is to sell the coins, as it has done in the past.

According to a court filing, the U.S. government sold 10,000 bitcoins related to Silk Road in March for just over 9,861 BTC worth $216 million.

As in this case, this event was preceded by three on-chain transactions sent a few weeks before the sale was revealed in a court filing. The United States Marshals Service is one of the largest Bitcoin sellers. According to researcher Jameson Lopp's data, the U.S. Marshals assisted the U.S. government in selling 195,000 bitcoins.

Despite efforts by U.S. lawmakers to have the agency hold these funds as a strategic asset, it has continued to sell the funds following its mandate, the role of the United States. Marshalls Service intends to sell assets confiscated during criminal investigations.

DOJ Transfers $2B Silk Road Bitcoin to New Wallet Ahead of Potential Liquidation

Approximately $2 billion in Bitcoin previously seized by U.S. authorities and linked to the Silk Road marketplace has been transferred to a new address.

According to blockchain data from April 2, a wallet associated with the U.S. The Justice Department initiated a 0.001 BTC transaction to a Coinbase Prime address, possibly as a test transaction. Shortly after, the same wallet transferred 30,174 BTC, or approximately $2 billion at publication, to a new address. Online sleuths identified the DOJ wallet as the one containing Bitcoin seized from James Zhong, who was convicted of "unlawfully obtaining" cryptocurrency from Silk Road in 2022.

Zhong stole over 50,000 bitcoins from Silk Road in 2012. In 2021, U.S. authorities raided his property and discovered tricky wallets containing Bitcoin, including one "on a single-board computer that was submerged under blankets in a popcorn tin." Most of the seized cryptocurrency was sent to the address that moved more than 30,000 BTC on April 2.

In March 2023, U.S. government officials reported that they had sold roughly 9,861 BTC of the cryptocurrency seized from Zhong for more than $215 million, leaving approximately 40,000 BTC. The April 2 transaction came after the price of Bitcoin fell by more than 7% to $65,475 at the time of publication.

The Silk Road marketplace, which has been defunct for over a decade, allowed users to buy and sell illicit goods such as weapons, drugs, and stolen credit card information. In 2013, U.S. authorities arrested its creator, Ross Ulbricht. He is currently serving two life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Photo: Microsoft Bing

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