The U.S. Attorney’s Office is pursuing the recovery of $54 million worth of Ethereum cryptocurrency from Christopher Castelluzzo, a convicted drug distributor.
On November 2, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger initiated a civil forfeiture action with the aim of reclaiming the cryptocurrency that was seized. This crypto is associated with Castelluzzo’s illegal narcotics distribution activities in the vicinity of New Jersey. In the words of Sellinger, “The civil action we are taking today seeks to recover millions of dollars of cryptocurrency.”
Castelluzzo Sold Drugs on Darknet for Crypto
Between 2010 and 2015, Christopher Castelluzzo and his associates conducted narcotics sales on the darknet, accepting cryptocurrency as payment. During Ethereum’s 2014 Initial Coin Offering, he acquired 30,000 Ether, and in 2016, he obtained 30,000 Ethereum Classic.
Documents reveal that in 2021, while in prison, Castelluzzo attempted to transfer 30,000 Ether out of the United States to launder his illicit gains. However, local authorities intercepted and seized the entire amount.
FBI Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy emphasized the misuse of cryptocurrency by criminals operating on the darknet to evade law enforcement scrutiny. He further stated, “Our forfeiture action of $54 million should serve as a lesson to those who mistakenly believe we can’t trace their illicit behavior or their ill-gotten proceeds.”
US Government Has Acquired $5 Billion Worth of Bitcoin From Seizures
Christopher Castelluzzo, a former resident of Lake Hopatcong, is currently serving concurrent 20-year federal and state prison sentences for drug distribution.
The legal action taken against Castelluzzo highlights the growing concern within law enforcement regarding the use of cryptocurrencies for facilitating illegal activities. The anonymity and decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies make them an attractive medium for illegal transactions.
Notably, the U.S. government has accumulated around 200,000 Bitcoins, valued at approximately $5 billion, through seizures connected to criminal activities, including those involving cybercriminals and darknet markets. This significant holding has positioned the U.S. government as one of the world’s largest Bitcoin holders.