DOJ Claims Responsibility for Shutting Down Cryptomarkets AlphaBay and Hansa

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

WASHINGTON-Officials in the US and Europe are announcing a takedown of two internet marketplaces for drugs, counterfeit goods, weapons, hacking tools and other illicit items hosted on the so-called dark web.

"This is the largest dark net marketplace takedown in history", Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in remarks prepared for a news conference Thursday in Washington, D.C.

The investigation into AlphaBay revealed that numerous vendors sold fentanyl and heroin. Officials say that around the time it was shuttered, AlphaBay boasted "250,000 listings for illegal drugs and toxic chemicals", as well as upwards of 100,000 other illicit items.

Prior to the shutdown, Alexandre Cazes, a Canadian officials believe created AlphaBay, was arrested in Thailand by authorities working in cooperation with US law enforcement. He called the bust one of the "most important criminal cases" of the year.

Both markets are accessible via the Tor browser, used to access the dark web.

Just a few short weeks after dark web market Alpha Bay was shut down, Hansa Market is now also shuttered.

According to the message, Dutch authorities had taken control of the Hansa Market a month ago, on June 20, and had been monitoring its users ever since.

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United States and European police on Thursday announced the shutdown of two huge "dark web" marketplaces that allowed the anonymous online trade of drugs, hacking software and guns.

On the now defunct AlphaBay, for instance, researchers found 414 arms-related advertisements among the website's almost 37,000 listings during a one-week span last September, making it the most popular dark web marketplace in terms of gun ads before it abruptly shuttered July 4.

Dutch authorities first started investigating Hansa in 2016, leading to the arrest of its two administrators in Germany and the seizure of servers in the Netherlands, Germany and Lithuania. "We will find you". Alexandre Cazes, 26, who ran the site was arrested earlier this month in Thailand and was found dead in his cell last week, taking his own life.

Wainwright said the investigation had resulted in the identification of numerous organized crime figures and that intelligence leads have been distributed to law enforcement in 37 countries around the world.

Authorities did not say if any other AlphaBay deputies had been arrested or prosecuted, however, one vendor, David Ryan Burchard, is set to go to trial next year in Fresno, California. Each time business rebounded, as users again went in search of anonymous, online contraband sales.

Users of such marketplaces use digital currencies like bitcoin and monero to buy and sell anonymously, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in its announcement that it had seized "millions of dollars' worth of cryptocurrencies" from the site. The dark web itself is an anonymous ecosystem of servers and sites which can not be found by conventional search engines. "For more information about this operation, please consult our hidden service at http://politiepcvh42eav.onion", Dutch authorities wrote on the seized Hansa website.

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