Online Broadband Guide
Online Broadband Guide

Gotcha: US and Europe Take Out Dark Web Sites

Gotcha: US and Europe Take Out Dark Web Sites

A global cyber crime investigation led by United States 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.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, "The ability of these drugs to so instantaneously end these promising lives is reminder to us of just how incredibly unsafe these synthetic opioids are, especially when purchased anonymously from dark spaces on internet, and this is likely one of the most important criminal investigations of this entire year".

"The take-down of the two largest criminal Dark Web markets in the world by European and American law enforcement authorities shows the important and necessary result of global cooperation to fight this criminality", he added. AlphaBay, a Web bazaar where users' identities were cloaked and illicit goods and drugs were sold, has officially been seized and shut down.

While the feds took down AlphaBay, the Dutch police ran Hansa dark web market for a month from 20th June to monitor activities of buyers and vendors. Cazes, who allegedly went by the nicknames "Alpha02" and "Admin", reportedly committed suicide while still in custody in Thailand. As of early 2017, there were 122 vendors advertising Fentanyl and 238 touting heroin.

"They flocked to Hansa in their droves", said Interpol director Rob Wainwright.

"According to Sessions, AlphaBay was the largest marketplace on the dark web", with "more than 200,000 users of the website and more than 250,000 listings for drugs". Instead of browsing categories like clothes or household goods like they would on a traditional shopping site, however, AlphaBay users could scroll through items in categories like "fraud, drugs and chemicals, counterfeit items, weapons" and others, according to the indictment. Customers bought illegal goods using digital currencies, the U.S. said. "We will find and prosecute drug traffickers who set up shop there, and this case is a great example of our commitment to doing exactly that".

According to a statement that now greets visitors of Hansa, Dutch law enforcement "modified the source capture passwords, PGP-encrypted order information, IP-addresses, Bitcoins, and other relevant information that may help law enforcement worldwide to identify users of this marketplace".

The civil forfeiture complaint outlines a crucial operational security mistake that Cazes made when he began the site in 2014. The Bangkok Post reported that shortly after his arrest, he was found dead in his cell. 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.

AlphaBay, Hansa, and Dream, the last of which is presumably still in operation, comprised the three largest drug markets on the dark web.

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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