DOJ takes down dark net marketplace

Justice Department announces takedown of AlphaBay, the largest dark web market

Hansa was the "third largest criminal marketplace on the dark web", the agency said, trading similarly high volumes in illicit drugs and other commodities.

Alphabay sold drugs to more than 40,000 anonymous dealers who had more than 200,000 customers, authorities said.

The takedown of AlphaBay coincided with efforts by Dutch law enforcement to dismantle another prominent dark web market called Hansa Market, which was also used to sell illegal drugs, malware, and counterfeit ID documents. You can not hide. We will find you, dismantle your organization and network.

AlphaBay, which reportedly listed almost 300,000 items for sale at the time of its disappearance, went down on 3 July. Officials say that around the time it was shuttered, AlphaBay boasted "250,000 listings for illegal drugs and toxic chemicals", as well as upwards of 100,000 other illicit items.

Global police operations have shut down two of the largest online black markets selling drugs, guns, and counterfeit documents. "These two cases have been developed together and our joint hit on both of these dark markets is one of the most sophisticated law enforcement operations against cybercrime", Robert Mark Wainwright, head of Europol, added.

AlphaBay was about 10 times the size of Silk Road, the infamous dark web marketplace that United States authorities shut down in 2013 after arresting its creator, who was later convicted and given two life sentences.

According to Europol's "conservative estimation", around £1 billion (£770 million) worth of transactions have been process through the marketplace since its creation in 2014, all paid in crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin.

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Dark web users, meanwhile, were rattled by the sting, advising each other to change their passwords as soon as possible, and spreading paranoid warnings of a possible "backdoor" into dark net markets. "We will find and prosecute drug traffickers who set up shop there".

The normal home page for the dark Web market Hansa has been replaced by this message from USA law enforcement authorities.

On July 5, the same day that AlphaBay went offline, authorities in Thailand arrested Alexandre Cazes - a 25-year-old Canadian citizen living in Thailand - on suspicion of being the creator and administrator of AlphaBay. The chief of Thailand's narcotics police told reporters that Cazes hanged himself in jail just prior to a scheduled court hearing.

The dark web refers to specific parts of the internet intentionally "hidden" from search engines, and require specific tools or networks - such as anonymity software such as Tor - to access.

Federal agents said they seized millions in cryptocurrency and a huge stash of luxury goods, including homes, boats and sports cars they said were all purchased by Cazes and his wife using profits from AlphaBay.

McCabe noted that other dark marketplaces would likely fill the void created by the law enforcement crackdown but warned criminals that the DOJ and its partners would never relent.

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