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Authorities Shut Down Two Major Dark Web Markets


Europol said Hansa was the third-largest criminal marketplace on the darknet, and traded similarly high volumes in illicit drugs and other commodities.

Authorities investigated the address and found it belonged to a man called Alexandre Cazes, a Canadian citizen who was arrested on behalf of the U.S. in Thailand. Police also reported seizing four Lamborghinis and three houses worth almost $12 million.

The US Department of Justice announced on Thursday that AlphaBay, the world's largest online black market, was seized and shut down after its creator was arrested in Thailand on July 5.

The full month that Dutch police spent monitoring the activity on Hansa meant that global police agencies had some 10,000 addresses for Hansa buyers outside of Holland. With two out of the three largest marketplaces in the hands of law enforcement, anyone using The Dream Market will find it hard to dismiss the possibility that it is also compromised. Indeed, police in the Netherlands were able to secretly take control of Hansa and then track what its users were doing.

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

The Justice Department claimed today AlphaBay, started in 2014, contained "250,000 listings for illegal drugs and toxic chemicals.and over 100,000 listings for stolen and fraudulent identification documents and access devices". "There are more of these operations to come", Rob Wainwright, the executive director of Europol, said today at a joint press conference with the U.S. Attorney General, the acting Federal Bureau of Investigation director and the deputy director of the DEA in Washington, D.C.

It operated using a hidden service on a network which effectively masked user identities and server location. Day-to-day operations were run with the help of as many as ten anonymous employees who went by names that included "Disc0", "Trappy", "BigMuscles", "Botah", "Onionhood" and "MountainHigh9". Cazes was found dead last week in his cell and apparently took his own life. Vendors who flee those sites for Dream Market may still be compromised by law enforcement, and if arrested, could potentially give up the addresses of any new Dream Market's customers, too.


The take down of AlphaBay and Hamsa represents the most serious strike at so-called dark web markets since the shutdown of Silk Road, the pioneering illegal online market busted by American authorities in 2013.

McCabe also praised the "coordination and a shared purpose" required to carry out an operation like this, and he acknowledged that taking down major dark sites at once is considerable, and issued a warning to those involved in such websites as while "there are some criminals that think of cybercrime as a freebie", blending traditional investigative techniques and new tools will bring these individuals to light.

As users are starting to congregate on Reddit to discover what is happening, Europol has released a confirmation of the market's downfall.

This story will be updated throughout the day.

The online activity has spawned further investigations in the real world, as police forces track down the sources of the drugs and other illegal goods that were being sold.

Prosecutors said AlphaBay didn't disguise the fact that its activities violated many laws.

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