Justice Department announces 'largest darknet takedown in history'

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

The website allegedly trafficked in illegal drugs, stolen documents, counterfeit goods and "other computer hacking tools, firearms, and toxic chemicals throughout the world", according to the Justice Department.

Authorities say the operation, led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Dutch police, shut down infrastructure belonging to the networks AlphaBay and Hansa, according to a press release from Europol.

"This is the largest darknet marketplace takedown in history", Attorney General Jeff Sessions told reporters in Washington, according to a prepared version of his statement.

Sessions also tied the marketplace to several heroin and fentanyl overdoses in the United States, emphasizing AlphaBay's connection to the opioid crisis.

USA authorities said they worked with law enforcement in several other countries - including Thailand, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Canada, the United Kingdom and France - to bring down AlphaBay.

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He said: "We are keenly aware there will be another Alpha Bay, but with each investigation we learn more".

Dark net markets enable large-scale trading in chiefly illegal goods, such as drugs, weapons, child pornography, and ransom software.

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.

AlphaBay, an online criminal marketplace operating on the dark web, has been seized, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.

AlphaBay Shutdown Drove Users to Hansa, Where Police Were Already in ControlMathew J. Schwartz (euroinfosec) • July 20, 2017 Takedown notices displayed on the Hansa and AlphaBay darknet marketplace homepages. The Dutch authorities then monitored criminal activities on the site before it was shut down today. Transactions were made in bitcoin and other crypto currencies. "We will find you, dismantle your organization and network, and we will prosecute you", Sessions said in a warning to dark web entrepreneurs.

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"We are keenly aware that there will be another AlphaBay", said Chuck Rosenberg, acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency".

Ever since AlphaBay went offline earlier in July, users of the site had discussed potential alternative dark web marketplaces on online forums.

AlphaBay, which has been offline since the start of July, is understood to have had a marketplace of more than 21,000 opioid listings and 4,100 fentanyl listings.

The suspect - Alexandre Cazes (25) - was arrested in Thailand earlier this month, and is reported to have died in custody the same day AlphaBay "went dark".

The authorities have moved quickly to seize Mr. Cazes' significant assets, including properties in Antigua, Cyprus, and Thailand; 10 vehicles, including a Lamborghini and a Porsche; and financial assets of about $18 million. Though it's very hard to trace users on the dark web, on the markets buyers regularly use their own addresses when making a purchase. "We face many challenges and require worldwide assistance to overcome those challenges".

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions says this take-down shows the world that criminals can not use the dark web to hide any more.

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