Justice Department Takes Down AlphaBay 'Dark Web' Marketplace

Justice Department announces takedown of AlphaBay, the largest dark web market

There were more than 250,000 listings for illegal drugs and toxic chemicals on AlphaBay, according to Europol.

"Europol and partner agencies in those countries supported the Dutch National Police to take over the Hansa marketplace on 20 June 2017 under Dutch judicial authorization, facilitating the covert monitoring of criminal activities on the platform until it was shut down today, 20 July 2017", Europol said in a statement.

AlphaBay's founder, Alexander Cazes, was arrested in Thailand, and US officials successfully negotiated his extradition to the U.S.in early July. Police also reported seizing four Lamborghinis and three houses worth almost $12 million.

In addition, Dutch authorities just took down another leading dark net marketplace, known as Hansa Market, the Justice Department said on Thursday.

It now turns out the operator, a Canadian named Alexandre Cazes, had been arrested as part of a larger operation to take down the dark web sites.

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

Europol estimates that at least one billion dollars worth of sales had been conducted on AlphaBay - including identification documents and access devices, counterfeit goods, malware and other computer hacking tools, firearms, and fraudulent services - since it was established in 2014. This makes it an obvious place to host online markets, similar in style to eBay but with illegal items also for sale.

The US Justice Department said AlphaBay was a major source of fentanyl and heroin linked to an increase in deaths associated with overdoses.

In agreement was Robert Pattinson, acting deputy administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency, who said that those who operate such dark web markets "all share one additional common characteristic, they operate on borrowed time".

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the AlphaBay closure "the largest takedown in world history", targeting some 40,000 vendors who marketed a quarter-million listings for illegal drugs to more than 200,000 customers. "We will find you".

On average, 1,000 orders per day were placed in response to nearly 40,000 advertisement sand more than 50,000 transactions have been monitored since the authorities took control of the website.

The FBI also described Cazes as the main suspect and said he had been indicted on multiple charges related to drugs and other crimes in California federal court. Indeed, police in the Netherlands were able to secretly take control of Hansa and then track what its users were doing. After all, takedowns like the seizure of the Silk Road in 2013, and so-called Operation Onymous in 2014, which ended half a dozen top darknet sites, took chunks almost as large out of the darknet markets infrastructure. Cazes was arrested on request of the U.S. embassy, and was found dead in the cell's toilet after apparently hanging himself with his towel. "There are more of these operations to come", Wainright said.

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