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Obama Ricin Letter Suspect Linked to Bitcoin Drug Bazaar

(Nextgov) A former seller on the now-shuttered Silk Road website, a black market eBay that only accepted Bitcoin, is one of the suspects accused of mailing President Obama poison-laced letters this year, according to Homeland Security Department officials.

The revelation came in response to a Senate committee’s request for information on the risks and benefits of the unregulated virtual currency. Bitcoin, which can be exchanged for real products and services or traditional money, is transferred through a peer-to-peer network almost anonymously.

For this reason, DHS officials say Silk Road facilitated the trafficking of, among other things, narcotics, biological agents, and fake passports. After busting up the operation earlier this fall, U.S. authorities say they continue to probe the site’s annual revenue stream of more than $250 million and its hundreds of thousands of users.