Two Federal agents are facing charges of stealing money from the Silk Road, an online drug marketplace that was taken down by federal warrant more than a year ago. According to a newly unsealed affidavit, DEA Agent Carl Mark Force was actively selling Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht information about the government's investigaton, at one point receiving $100,000 in bitcoin in exchange for a name that Mt Gox founder Mark Karpeles had given investigators as DPR's true identity. (Karpeles maintains that he never knew DPR's identity.) Force also used the DEA's legal powers to freeze a bitcoin account on a service called CoinMKT and direct nearly $300,000 into his own account.
Force used the DEA's legal powers to steal $300,000 from a bitcoin account
It's still unclear how the new revelations will affect the outcome of the Silk Road trial, but Ulbricht's lawyer, Joshua Dratel, has already criticized the government's efforts to suppress the thefts until after the trial. "The government’s considerable efforts at keeping this monumental scandal from being aired at Ross Ulbricht’s trial is itself scandalous," Dratel said in a statment. Force is being charged alongside Secret Service member Shaun Bridges, whom the affidavit connects to Silk Road thefts that took place on January 26, 2013. Bridges faces only laundering and fraud charges, while Force also faces charges for theft of government property.
The investigation into the Silk Road concluded in February with Ross Ulbricht convicted on seven counts, based on more than $100 million in drug transactions hosted by the network. Much of the evidence brought against Ulbricht was based on Bitcoin's blockchain, which provides extensive transaction records once a specific account has been deanonymized. It's unclear how much that technique was used in this investigation, but if the Silk Road's transaction records were handed over to law enforcement in the wake of the Ulbricht verdict, they may pointed to missing bitcoin taken by Force and Bridges. The agents are expected to be arrested later today.