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According to a Canadian news outlet, the British Columbia Civil Forfeiture Office has claimed $1.4 million in Bitcoin seized after the arrest of a man allegedly connected to the famed Silk Road vendor MarijuanaIsMyMuse. However, the man was arrested in 2013, sentenced in 2015, and free only nine months later. Neither the Civil Forfeiture Office nor the Vancouver Police have explained why—nearly three years after the seizure and conviction—the government feels that it is owed 226.4 bitcoins.
Vancouver Police seized the bitcoins, along with computers, hard drives, and a whole 15 kilograms of marijuana in early 2013 after the man’s arrest for marijuana trafficking. His arrest, according to a report recently submitted to the Forfeiture Office, was primarily due to an accident and perhaps slight negligence on the marijuana dealer’s part. His children—both toddlers at the time—had wandered outside of his house while he had been asleep. Someone eventually called the police about the two children wandering around unsupervised.
The police, looking to bring the children back to their parent(s), arrived at the scene. Vancouver police Const. Gordon Stokes reported, in the document filed with the Forfeiture Office, the he had found the children wandering into traffic. The oldest child, 3, allegedly allowed the officer into the home. The officer reported smelling marijuana in the house but first followed the child to his father who had been sleeping on the second floor of the house.
According to the report, the man looked uneasy and nervous. The officer arrested him on the spot. The police returned the following day and seized the marijuana and computers. The computers included a Bitcoin wallet filled with 226.4 bitcoin. They also seized the computers of another resident. In April 2015, the courts sentenced the man to nine months in prison for marijuana trafficking. Case closed.
The government allowed him to retrieve his seized assets in 2017. Minus the marijuana. When the man picked up his computers in April 2017, he discovered that the police stripped his hard drives. One month later, the police informed him that the hard drives were part of an ongoing police investigation. However, the man argued that none of the cryptocurrency had any connection to drug distribution or related illicit activity. Lolita Rudovica, the man’s lawyer, confirmed this in an email statement.
“The property subject to civil forfeiture seized by the police in this proceeding is neither proceeds of crime nor an instrument of unlawful activity. We are currently in the very early stages of the case,” the lawyer said. The man’s now-deleted LinkedIn page listed occupations in cryptocurrency businesses, among other tech companies.
According to a suit filed by the Civil Forfeiture Office, the hard drives contained evidence that linked the man to the Silk Road vendor account MarijuanaIsMyMuse. They wrote that he had been involved in the selling of other drugs—including cocaine, Viagra, and ketamine—not just marijuana. Authorities have not filed charges reflecting the Forfeiture Office’s accusations. And the police have kept the hard drives in spite of the court order requiring the return of the drives.
The man has claimed that using the hard drives as evidence of any crime is a violation of his rights. The Civil Forfeiture Office sees the case differently and, unless otherwise ordered by a court, will be keeping the Bitcoin found on the hard drives.