A global cyber crime investigation led by USA and European officials has shut down Alphabay and Hansa Market, illegal marketplaces on the so-called dark web that conducted transactions worth tens of millions of dollars a month in recreational drugs, stolen credit card numbers, and weapons.
Overall, the marketplace boasted more than 40,000 vendors and 200,000 users, according to the DOJ, citing an AlphaBay staff member.
"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". "We will find you". AlphaBay, a Web bazaar where users' identities were cloaked and illicit goods and drugs were sold, has officially been seized and shut down.
The Justice Department cooperated with global law enforcement agencies on the takedown, which shuts down a website that had more than 200,000 customers who could browse for illegal drugs and other illicit products like stolen identities and guns.
The creator and administrator of AlphaBay was arrested in Thailand on 5th July, while Hansa was officially taken over on 20 July following a series of arrests and the seizures of servers in Germany, the Netherlands and Lithuania. "Make no mistake, the forces of law and justice face a new challenge from the criminals and transnational criminal organizations who think they can commit their crimes with impunity by 'going dark.' This case, pursued by dedicated agents and prosecutors, says you are not safe".
Authorities did not say if any other AlphaBay deputies had been arrested or prosecuted, however, one vendor, David Ryan Burchard, is set to go to trial next year in Fresno, California.
"They flocked to Hansa in their droves", said Interpol director Rob Wainwright.
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The site was widely regarded as the largest dark web marketplace for illicit items such as drugs, and was seen as the replacement for the infamous site Silk Road, which was shut down by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2013.
Alphabay operated on Tor Browser, which allows for user anonymity, and had over 250,000 listings for illicit goods and services at the time it was taken down.
"The dark net is not a place to hide". The FBI says they have seized and shut down the largest of these illegal marketplaces, a site called "AlphaBay". "This is the moment to show the world that you can't trust dark markets anymore, because you never know who is the admin", he said.
AlphaBay was allegedly run by Alexander Cazes, a 25-year-old Canadian who lived in Thailand.
The normal home page for the dark Web market Hansa has been replaced by this message from USA law enforcement authorities. Visitors to the online marketplaces paid through digital currencies such as Bitcoin.
That surveillance means that law enforcement likely now has identifying details on an untold number of dark web sellers-and particularly buyers.