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HomeLaw & PoliticsNew National Crypto Enforcement Team Director argued Ross Ulbricht's 2016 Appeals Case

New National Crypto Enforcement Team Director argued Ross Ulbricht’s 2016 Appeals Case

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Eun Young Choi’s appointment as the inaugural Director of the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team in a news statement today (NCET). Choi, a seasoned prosecutor with nearly a decade of experience at the Department of Justice, will take over her duties full-time immediately.

The Department of Justice announced NCET in October to help combat the illicit exploitation of cryptocurrencies and digital assets. The new unit will “…identify, investigate, support, and pursue the department’s cases involving the criminal use of digital assets, with a particular focus on virtual currency exchanges, mixing and tumbling services, infrastructure providers, and other entities that enable the misuse of cryptocurrency and related technologies to commit or facilitate criminal activity,” according to the press release.

Ulbricht is currently serving a life sentence for running the Silk Road, a dark web marketplace. ‘Silk Road,’ a film that depicts the events that led to his arrest, was released in 2021. Actor Nick Robinson plays Ulbright, while Jason Clarke plays one of the cops investigating the crime. Even while imprisoned, Ulbricht continues to make headlines and has a large number of followers who want him released. Ulbricht presented an NFT in December, which sold for $6.2 million at an auction during Art Basel Miami. The winning offer was put by a decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO) dubbed ‘FreeRossDAO,’ which aims to “promote jail reform” and “share Ross’s work with the world and give everyone a unique opportunity to own a piece of it.”

Lyn Ulbricht, Ross Ulbricht’s mother, is the CEO of FreeRoss.org, a group that claims to have over 250 organisations, renowned leaders, and individuals who have expressed support for Ulbricht’s release. Ulbricht also maintains a Twitter account, where one of his most recent tweets reads, “There is no such thing as a life sentence.” It’s merely a death sentence that takes a long time to carry out.”

Apart from the Panama Papers, in which a former U.S. taxpayer pled guilty to a decades-long criminal conspiracy, this is probably Choi’s most well-known case. In terms of what to expect next, the world of cryptocurrencies has altered dramatically since Ulbricht’s appeal was upheld in 2017 and he was sentenced to life in prison, with only a Presidential pardon likely to set him free. Many people, based on the movie about Ulbricht and the general libertarian ethos of the crypto industry, believe he was wrongly prosecuted while still acknowledging that the Silk Road was a pivotal moment in the introduction of bitcoin in the United States. The intersection of Ulbricht and Choi six years ago is an important reminder of the delicate balance of how cryptocurrency will be viewed, understood, and accepted in our society today under the law, especially as cryptocurrency has become big business, which likely led to Choi’s promotion at Justice.

It’s a wrap for this story.

Kunal Krishan
Kunal is an investment space writer who firmly believes investment is something which should not be a choice but a part of everyone's life.
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