Largest dark web market closed in massive government takedown

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

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

WASHINGTON-Officials in the USA and Europe are announcing a takedown of two internet marketplaces for drugs, counterfeit goods, weapons, hacking tools and other illicit items hosted on the so-called dark web.

During the press conference, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions focused on the illegal drugs that were exchanged on AlphaBay, noting the recent opioid crisis in the United States.

"As of earlier this year, 122 vendors advertised fentanyl and 238 advertised heroin, and we know of several Americans who were killed by drugs sold on AlphaBay".

According to Europol, AlphaBay was the largest criminal marketplace on the darknet, with more than 200,000 users and 40,000 vendors.

The operations to seize AlphaBay's infrastructure was led by the USA with cooperation from six other countries and the European law enforcement agency Europol.

He said: "We are keenly aware there will be another Alpha Bay, but with each investigation we learn more".

"Dark websites like Alpha Bay and others run on what is called the Tor network; hidden services created to hide information that could reveal the location of a website and its customers", he said.

By comparison, Silk Road, the market it replaced after the arrest of its creator, Ross Ulbricht, in 2013 hosted 14,000 listings for illicit products and services at the time it was taken down.

The Dutch National Police took control of Hansa on 20 June, seizing servers in Lithuania, the Netherlands and Germany.

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Hansa, the third-largest dark web market, was also shut down today by Dutch authorities-after they ran the site for a month and collected information on its users.

Hansa was frequently mentioned, meaning that the authorities were likely able to uncover new criminal activity on Hansa as users migrated to it from AlphaBay.

"We could identify and disrupt the regular criminal activity that was happening on Hansa market but also sweep up all of those new users that were displaced from AlphaBay and looking for a new trading platform for their ciminal activities".

With the takedown of AlphaBay and Hansa, authorities said they have frozen millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin used to settle online transactions without the buyers and sellers being identified. "We will find you", Sessions added.

The suspect - Alexandre Cazes (25) - was arrested in Thailand earlier this month, and is reported to have died in custody the same day AlphaBay "went dark".

Alphabay had been seen as a successor to Silk Road, another massive dark web market that processed around $15million of transactions a year.

AlphaBay went offline around the same time as the arrest. "There are more of these operations to come", he warned.

"The dark web is growing into a haven of rampant criminality", warned Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship.

"The ability of these drugs to so instantaneously end these promising lives is a reminder to us of just how incredibly unsafe these synthetic opioids are, especially when they are purchased anonymously from dark places on the internet", Sessions said.

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