US authorities seize $19 million worth of bitcoins in dark web drug probe

Yogita Khatri

The U.S. government has seized $19 million worth of bitcoins from a drug trafficker, who allegedly laundered funds through the cryptocurrency on the dark website known as "Silk Road."

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York announced the news on Thursday, saying that the trafficker, Hugh Brian Haney, 60, was arrested near Columbus, Ohio. In 2017 and 2018, Haney allegedly transferred bitcoins representing drug proceeds he had earned through Silk Road to an account held at a company involved in the exchange of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. He claimed falsely that the source of these bitcoins was from mining.

Haney is charged with one count of concealment money laundering and one count of engaging in a financial transaction in a criminally derived property. The former count carries a maximum jail term of 20 years, while the latter a maximum term of 10 years.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agent-in-charge Angel M. Melendez said: "HSI special agents employed blockchain analytics to uncover and seize bitcoins valued at $19 million and usher Haney out of the dark web shadows to face justice in the Southern District of New York."