On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice  said it seized $3.36 billion worth of bitcoins last year that were stolen from a dark web marketplace a decade ago.

According to the statement, in November 2021, law enforcement officers ransacked James Zhong’s home and confiscated over 50,000 bitcoins, the cryptocurrency was stored on a device hidden under a can of popcorn.

“We have been trying to solve the mystery of more than $3.3 billion worth of missing bitcoins for almost a decade,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams.

Now the value of the confiscated digital coins is estimated at about $1.1 billion.

This is the second largest cryptocurrency confiscation by the US Department of Justice: in February, US law enforcement  officers seized  over $3.6 billion in digital currency, which fraudsters allegedly stole during a cyber attack on the Bitfinex crypto exchange in 2016.

On Friday, James Zhong confessed to fraud. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

Zhong stole bitcoins from the Silk Road marketplace in 2012, where cryptocurrencies could be used to buy various illegal services and goods, including drugs, according to a statement released by the Justice Department on Monday.

“Mr. Zhong implemented a complex scheme to steal bitcoins from the well-known Silk Road platform,” said Tyler Hatcher, an IRS agent.

In September 2012, Zhong created several accounts on Silk Road and transferred 50,000 bitcoins to them, tricking the internal payment processing system.

The scammer then sent illegal proceeds to a number of crypto wallets under his control. Thus, he wanted to hide the source of the funds, his connection with them, and also evade the attention of the authorities.

In 2013, the FBI closed Silk Road, and in 2015, the founder of the marketplace received a life sentence.