Authorities Shut Down Two Major Dark Web Markets

Authorities Shut Down Two Major Dark Web Markets

The Department of Justice and Europol announced Thursday that they have shut down AlphaBay and Hansa, two massive marketplaces on the dark web that served hundreds of thousands of customers trying to get their hands on illegal goods online. Just as AlphaBay rose and became 10 times larger than Silk Road, FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe predicts there will be another dark web market to fill the void.

Two major dark web markets, AlphaBay and Hansa, have been shut down, United States and European authorities announced. Several vendors have been charged with selling drugs that were used in overdoses, the Justice Department said.

"This is likely one of the most important criminal investigations of this entire year", Sessions said.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a news conference in Washington DC that "the dark net is not a place to hide".

The so-called "dark web" is a corner of the internet that can only be accessed by specialist software, helping to cast a shadow over users' details and transactions. There, buyers and sellers are anonymous, and so is the currency, with most transactions happening through bitcoin.

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The site AlphaBay went dark in early July after an alleged administrator of the site, 26-year-old Canadian Alexandre Cazes, was arrested in Thailand. "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 using the dark net".

"I literally just found the flawless deal for (Xanax) bars, texted a bud to see if he wanted, and when I went to refresh I got the same message about the site being seized", fellow user Elchapo1017 wrote. "Of course not", the site answered, according to the complaint.

This e-mail address was also included in the header of AlphaBay users who lost their passwords.

AlphaBay, the largest criminal marketplace on the dark web, and Hansa, the third largest, could have generated more than £1bn in revenue while they were open, according to a "conservative estimate" by police.

Users could rate the more than 40,000 vendors who sold illegal goods on AlphaBay and the site's administrators had procedures to solve disputes between vendors and buyers, according to the indictment.

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Because the sites operate anonymously and are heavily encrypted, NBC News was unable to reach anyone to comment.

Alexandre Cazes was due to be extradited to the U.S. on charges of racketeering, narcotics distribution, identity theft, transfer of false identification documents, device fraud, trafficking in device making equipment, and money laundering, according to the Justice Department.

The law enforcement agencies added they has seized millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrencies, and also grabbed control of servers in Canada and the Netherlands. He also had bank accounts in Liechtenstein, Thailand and Cyprus.

The move is the biggest worldwide strike against online marketplaces that deal in illegal goods - Alphabay was the largest in the world and Hansa Market the third-largest.

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