US authorities have seized $3.6 million worth of the digital currency bitcoin as part of a bust that shut down ‘Silk Road’, an online black market for drugs, hitmen and hacker tools, US authorities said Wednesday.


Silk Road had used bitcoin in transactions as a way to protect identities of buyers and sellers in the nefarious marketplace.

During the bust, the website’s founder, Ross William Ulbricht, was arrested.

“[Ulbricht] deliberately set out to establish an online criminal marketplace outside the reach of law enforcement and government regulation,” said FBI Special Agent Christopher Tarbell in the legal filing.

“The criminal complaint revealed that the site had collected revenues of some 9.5 million bitcoin since 2011, the equivalent today of $1.2 billion in sales and $80 million in commissions for Ulbricht,” Tim Fernholz wrote for Quartz.

“For a single company to dominate the US dollar the way Silk Road does bitcoin, it would need to have earned $8,745 billion in revenue over the two and half year period, or $3,498 billion a year.”

“To put that in perspective, the number one company in the Fortune Global 500, Dutch Shell, earned $481.7 billion last year, less than 5% of what it would take to equal Silk Road’s position.”


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