'Dark web' marketplaces shut down after global investigation

'Dark web' marketplaces shut down after global investigation

"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.

Sessions added that United States security groups had attributed a number of drug-related deaths to substances sold via the sites.

Alphabay operated on Tor Browser, which allows for user anonymity, and had over 250,000 listings for illicit goods and services at the time it was taken down.

Sessions said the DOJ had seized the infrastructure and arrested the criminal market's owner, ending speculation about why AlphaBay had recently disappeared.

"Dark websites like Alpha Bay and others run on what is called the Tor network; hidden services created to hide information that could reveal the location of a website and its customers", he said.

According to Europol's press release, the European agency provided Dutch authorities with an investigation lead on the Hansa Market in 2016.

U.S. law officials have shut down one of the world's biggest online marketplaces for drugs and weapons, the Justice Department announced today.

Rumors about AlphaBay's demise had been circulating for days after the market was shut down in early July.

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Then on July 4th, investigators made a strike against Alphabay, shutting down the site but not yet revealing their involvement, leading to speculation by its users that Alphabay's founder might have absconded with the funds. Visitors to the online marketplaces paid through digital currencies such as Bitcoin.

The second marketplace, Hansa, was taken over by the Dutch National Police on June 20, with servers seized in Lithuania, the Netherlands and Germany.

On July 5, the Canadian national who ran AlphaBay, Alexandre Cazes, was arrested in Thailand. "You can not hide. We will find you". Cazes was the subject of a multi-count racketeering and drug sales indictment filed by the USA attorney for the eastern district of California.

Prosecutors say AlphaBay had 200,000 members and 40,000 vendors before it was taken offline. Each time business rebounded, as users again went in search of anonymous, online contraband sales. Authorities had filed suit against Cazes and his wife to recover assets alleged to have been obtained via the site, including millions of dollars in cryptocurrency.

"This is an outstanding success by authorities in Europe and the US", Rob Wainwright, executive director of Europol.

Two of the drug traffickers on the website have also been identified and charged after heroin and a synthetic opiate purchased on AlphaBay were linked to overdose deaths in OR and Florida. "There are more of these operations to come", Wainright said.

"This is an outstanding success by authorities in Europe and the U.S.", Rob Wainwright, the executive director of Europol, said at the Thursday news conference in Washington, where he appeared alongside the U.S. Attorney General, the acting director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the deputy director of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

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