Skip to main content
Press Release

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Forfeiture Of $48 Million From Sale Of Silk Road Bitcoins

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, today announced the forfeiture of $48,238,116 in proceeds (the “Proceeds”) from the sale of the 144,336 Bitcoins that were recovered from Ross William Ulbricht’s laptop computer.  Ulbricht was found guilty in 2015, after a jury trial, of distributing narcotics, distributing narcotics by means of the Internet, conspiring to distribute narcotics, engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiring to commit computer hacking, conspiring to traffic in false identity documents, and conspiring to commit money laundering, in connection with his operation of the Silk Road underground website.  The Proceeds were the subject of a parallel civil forfeiture action filed in Manhattan federal court in 2013 seeking the forfeiture of all assets of Silk Road. United States District Judge Katherine Forrest entered a Stipulation and Order today in which Ulbricht withdrew his claim to the Proceeds, and the Proceeds were forfeited to the United States.


According to the evidence presented at Ublricht’s criminal trial, statements made during other public proceedings, and other court documents:


Ulbricht created Silk Road in January 2011, and owned and operated the underground website until it was shut down by law enforcement authorities in October 2013.  Silk Road emerged as the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet, serving as a sprawling black-market bazaar where unlawful goods and services, including illegal drugs of virtually all varieties, were bought and sold regularly by the site’s users.  While in operation, Silk Road was used by thousands of drug dealers and other unlawful vendors to distribute hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs and other unlawful goods and services to more than 100,000 buyers, and to launder hundreds of millions of dollars deriving from these unlawful transactions.


In connection with the investigation of Silk Road, the Government seized 144,336 Bitcoins derived from Silk Road’s illegal activities that were found on Ulbricht’s laptop computer.  These Bitcoins were ultimately sold by the United States Marshals Service pursuant to Court order for $48,238,116.


The civil forfeiture case is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Unit.  Assistant United States Attorney Christine Magdo is in charge of the case.

Updated September 29, 2017

Press Release Number: 17-318