Nearly 18 months ago, federal authorities began investigating a man from Merced, California, who they believed was selling millions of dollars in bitcoins to an “unlicensed digital currency exchanger.”
That man, David Ryan Burchard, was arrested in March 2016 and pleaded not guilty at his first court appearance. After being recently released on bail, he now faces nearly 20 counts of drug-related and money laundering charges.
According to the affidavit by special agent Matthew Larsen of Homeland Securities Investigations (HSI), the FBI estimates that Burchard was the 18th largest vendor on Silk Road. That made Burchard the third-largest US-based vendor on the notorious and now-shuttered online drug market.
Following Burchard’s arrest, prosecutors said that he sold $1.4 million worth of marijuana and cocaine on Silk Road. When the site was shut down, Burchard allegedly moved on to other sites, including Agora, Abraxas, and AlphaBay.
Burchard’s lawyer, Anthony Capozzi, himself a former federal prosecutor, said the case is still in its early stages and that a plea deal has not been offered yet.
“We received thousands of pages of discovery, and I haven’t gone through [them] yet,” he told Ars.
He noted that this was the first digital currency case that he’d ever worked on.
“It’s too early on, so many pages of discovery,” Capozzi added. “I can’t tell one way or the other which way the case is going at this point. With a case this complicated, it’s going to take a while.”
Assistant United States Attorney Grant Rabenn declined Ars’ request for comment. It …