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

by Dominic Parks July 21, 2017, 0:41
AlphaBay, world's largest Dark Web market, officially shut down by DOJ

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

The announcement on Thursday morning said the FBI, Europol, and other agencies had taken down the biggest and most notorious site, AlphaBay, earlier this month and then waited while the AlphaBay users migrated to another underground website called Hansa.

AlphaBay's suspected founder, Alexandre Caze, was arrested earlier this month in Thailand at the request of USA officials. Police also reported seizing four Lamborghinis and three houses worth almost $12 million. "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". Dutch police took over Hansa last month and have been collecting thousands of user's information in an undercover operation. AlphaBay was even larger than Silk Road, which was seized by law enforcement in November 2013. But what no one knew is Hansa, one of two major cryptomarkets users fled to after AlphaBay went down on July 4, has been secretly under the control of the Dutch government since June.

He added that the USA faces the "deadliest drug crisis in its history", pointing to the fact that some of the "most prolific drug suppliers" use the dark web.

"This case, pursued by dedicated agents and prosecutors, says you are not safe, you can not hide".

"Around the time of the takedown of the site, there were more than 250,000 listings for illegal drugs and toxic chemicals on AlphaBay", Jeff Sessions, US Attorney General, said about the AlphaBay network.

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.

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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein confirmed that Alpha Bay was part of a larger worldwide effort targeted at dark web market bases. "Some 10 000 foreign addresses of Hansa market buyers were passed on to Europol", Europol said in a statement.

Like AlphaBay, the services operate on the dark web - a collection of websites only accessible using specific services to help hide users' identities. The DOJ also confirmed today that a Canadian national arrested in Thailand was Alpha02, one of AlphaBay's admin.

The operation was similar to a controversial case in the United States where authorities seized a child porn darknet site and continued to run it for two weeks at an increased capacity to ensnare more users. Earlier this week, Cazes was found dead in his Thai police cell, with police saying he apparently hanged himself with a towel.

This story will be updated throughout the day. In comparison, Silk Road, one of the most notorious dark web markets, had 14,000 listings when the Federal Bureau of Investigation shut down the site four years ago.

Alan Woodward, a computer science professor at Surrey University who advises Europol - the EU's law enforcement intelligence agency - on cybersecurity, says that police will now be chasing down the leads obtained from this takedown.

It facilitated the sale of illegal items, including drugs.


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