By Pete Schroeder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday it had seized over $1 billion worth of bitcoin associated with the underground online marketplace Silk Road.
The Justice Department said it was seeking the forfeiture of the cryptocurrency, which had been in the possession of an unnamed hacker who stole them from the "notorious" website. It is the largest cryptocurrency seizure ever made by the U.S. government, the department added.
The government will now try to prove in court the items are subject to forfeiture. In the past, the government has later auctioned off forfeited cryptocurrency.
Silk Road was seized by the government in 2013, with officials describing the underground website as a massive illegal drug and money laundering marketplace.
The website's accused creator, Ross Ulbricht, was convicted in 2015 of seven counts of enabling illegal drug sales via bitcoin. He was sentenced to life in prison, and lost an attempted appeal in 2017.
(Reporting by Pete Schroeder; editing by Jonathan Oatis)