The United States Department of Justice, in collaboration with government authorities in the state of Maryland, have seized $17 million in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and are requesting approval of the seizure of an additional 4,000 BTC, valued at $24 million - bringing the total value in cryptocurrencies seized to $41 million.
The Maryland men, Ryan Farace and Robert Swain, both age 34, are facing a six-count indictment for allegedly running a counterfeit drug dealing ring through the Dark Web. The two face a maximum sentence of 20 years for money laundering charges, while an additional maximum sentence of five years for drug distribution charges are also part of the charges.
According to the claims, the two men were selling fake Xanax pills from November 2013 to June 2017.
In addition to the bitcoin seizure, US authorities also seized over $2.5 million in computers and related electronics, as well as some $1.5 million in cash. Authorities are requesting the forfeiture of an additional 4,000 Bitcoin and “no less than $5,665,000” that are “believed to be the proceeds of the illegal drug sales.”
If the request is approved, the seized Bitcoin will be added to a pool of cryptocurrencies seized as part of other unrelated cases, and sold at auction to investors. So far in 2018, the US Marshals Service auctioned off over 3,800 Bitcoins.
This is also not the first time Bitcoin has been seized in relation to drug sales on the Dark Web. Most notably, the US government also shut down the well-known Silk Road Dark Web marketplace and eventually auctioned off 80,000 BTC seized in the sting.