AlphaBay, world's largest Dark Web market, officially shut down by DOJ

Posted July 21, 2017

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said AlphaBay had grown in size to more than 250,000 listings for illegal narcotics via cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, that help users remain anonymous.

USA authorities said they worked with law enforcement in several other countries - including Thailand, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Canada, the United Kingdom and France - to bring down AlphaBay.

It operated using a hidden service on a network which effectively masked user identities and server location.

It turns out that AlphaBay was shuttered thanks to an Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Agency-led operation, called Bayonet, that identified the site's administrator, Canadian citizen Alexandre Cazes, 26.

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United States law officials have shut down one of the world's biggest online marketplaces for drugs and weapons, the Justice Department announced today. Their efforts, they said, coincided with Dutch authorities shuttering another illicit online market, known as Hansa Market. The action permitted surveillance of criminal activities on the marketplace before it was shut down in July.

A recent investigation of 18 different online marketplaces that facilitate illegal firearms sales found 60 percent of the weapons being sold originated in the US, concluded RAND Europe and University of Manchester researchers in a report released Thursday. Meanwhile, Dutch police took over the Hansa marketplace on 20 June after two men in Germany were arrested and servers in Germany, The Netherlands and Lithuania were seized, allowing the authorities to covertly monitor transaction until the site was eventually taken down today.

A California indictment named AlphaBay's founder as Canadian Alexandre Cazes, saying the 27-year-old had amassed a fortune of $23 million, including a small fortune in digital currency.

After AlphaBay's shutdown, its users flocked to Hansa, increasing the dark market's traffic in eightfold, Wainwright said.

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AlphaBay alone had 200,000 customers and more than 40,000 sellers peddling illegal goods, making it the largest takedown for a dark web marketplace ever.

The normal home page for the dark Web market Hansa has been replaced by this message from us law enforcement authorities. "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". Once AlphaBay went down, their new listings tripled to approximately 15,000 a week. Authorities had filed suit against Cazes and his wife to recover assets alleged to have been obtained via the site, including millions of dollars in cryptocurrency. "We face many challenges and require global assistance to overcome those challenges".

Sessions cautioned criminals from thinking that they could evade prosecution by using the dark web: "You cannot hide", he said, "We will find you".

"The dark web is growing into a haven of rampant criminality", said Dimitris Avramopoulos, a European Commissioner, in a statement.

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