German Police and DEA Announce Record BTC Seizures

Accused piracy vendors voluntarily forfeited more than $2B worth of BTC to German police.

By: Samuel Haig Loading...

German Police and DEA Announce Record BTC Seizures

Law enforcement in the United States and Germany have announced record cryptocurrency seizures, with German federal police taking control of more than $2B worth of Bitcoin.

On Dec. 30, Germany’s Saxon State Criminal Police Office announced it had seized roughly 50,000 BTC worth $2.17B, comprising the largest cryptocurrency haul from the country’s law enforcement agencies to date.

German police said they have been actively investigating two men aged 37 and 40 suspected of operating a piracy website until late 2013. The pair are accused of using ill-gotten gains garnered from the platform to purchase a sizable stash of Bitcoin. The pair are believed to have exploited copyrighted works for commercial gain and engaged in money laundering activities.

The announcement said the funds were “voluntarily transferred” to a wallet controlled by the Federal Criminal Police Office. The announcement noted that investigations are still underway and no charges have been filed, adding it will publish further information will be made public once the investigation has closed.

DEA announces record Bitcoin seizure

The news came just a few days after the United States Attorney’s Office announced that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) had seized $150M in BTC from a darknet narcotics vendor.

The announcement said the funds were forfeited by an Indian national who pleaded guilty to operating a multi-million-dollar dark web narcotics enterprise that moved “hundreds of kilograms and tens of thousands of pills of controlled substances” from Europe to the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Jamaica, and U.S. Virgin Islands.

“According to the DEA, this case involves the largest single cryptocurrency and cash seizure in DEA history; the defendant has forfeited cryptocurrency accounts that ultimately became worth $150 million,” the announcement said. “Banmeet Singh, 40, of Haldwani, India, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to commit money laundering.”

Singh operated from at least mid-2012 through July 2017, moving controlled substances using U.S. mail and other shipping services. Singh distributed the substances using numerous darknet marketplaces including Silk Road, Silk Road 2.0, Alpha Bay, and Hansa, among others.

The U.S. government has emerged among the world’s largest Bitcoin holders, with data from Dune Analytics indicating government-controlled wallets held 194,188 BTC worth more than $8.4B prior to the latest seizure.

The U.S. government’s Bitcoin balance is down since holding an all-time high of 215,340 BTC from mid-2022 until early 2023, with authorities offloading around 20,000 BTC seized from James Zhong — who stole roughly 50,000 from Silk Road in 2012.