Alpha Bay, Hansa taken down in coordinated global cybercrime operation

Hansa market

There were over 250 000 listings for illegal drugs and toxic chemicals on AlphaBay, and over 100 000 listings for stolen and fraudulent identification documents and access devices, counterfeit goods, malware and other computer hacking tools, firearms, and fraudulent services.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced this morning that the Justice Department, in coordination with law enforcement agencies around the globe, was responsible for shutting down the cryptomarket AlphaBay on July 4 as part of Operation Bayonet.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions officially confirmed today a coordinated worldwide law enforcement effort to take down AlphaBay after news of raids and arrests in the US, Canada, and Thailand leaked to the press last week.

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

Identifying dark nets sites is notoriously hard as they often operate as hidden services, using the free anonymity software Tor to protect their operators' identities from law enforcement.

Dark web vendors are enabling the circulation of illegal weapons already on the black market in addition to offering customers "better performing, more recent firearms for the same, or lower, price, than what would be available on the street", the report said.

The FBI, DEA and Dutch National Police led the investigation.

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The FBI says they have seized and shut down the largest of these illegal marketplaces, a site called "AlphaBay".

"Law enforcement agencies will now begin to sift through the forensic material gathered during the strikes against AlphaBay and Hansa Market", Ian Cruxton, deputy director of intelligence for the U.K.'s National Crime Agency, said in a statement.

With the takedown of AlphaBay and Hansa, authorities said they have frozen millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin used to settle online transactions without the buyers and sellers being identified.

The alleged creator and operator of Alphabay, Alexandre Cazes, is a Canadian-born man who killed himself on July 12 days after after being arrested by Thai authorities following a federal indictment. "We will find you, dismantle your organization and network, and we will prosecute you", Sessions said in a warning to dark web entrepreneurs. "This is the moment to show the world that you can't trust dark markets anymore, because you never know who is the admin", he said. Once AlphaBay went down, their new listings tripled to approximately 15,000 a week.

"The capability of drug traffickers and other serious criminals around the world has taken a serious hit today after a highly sophisticated joint action in multiple countries", Rob Wainwright, Executive Director of Europol, said of the stings. Day-to-day operations were run with the help of as many as ten anonymous employees who went by names that included "Disc0", "Trappy", "BigMuscles", "Botah", "Onionhood" and "MountainHigh9".

Rather than similarly infiltrate the other Dark Web marketplace, AlphaBay, once the investigators had control of Hansa they merely shut it down.

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