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Justice Department announces 'largest darknet takedown in history'

Justice Department announces 'largest darknet takedown in history'

The Department of Justice and its global partners announced Thursday a takedown of a massive Dark Web marketplace that was allegedly one of the world's biggest sources for the sale of drugs and illicit materials, striking a blow to the cybercriminal underground.

According to the McCabe, AlphaBay was 10 times the size of Silk Road, a previous massive Dark Web marketplace that DOJ busted in 2013.

Earlier this month, news broke that authorities had seized the Dark Web marketplace AlphaBay, an online black market that peddled everything from heroin to stolen identity and credit card data. "We will find and prosecute drug traffickers who set up shop there, and this case is a great example of our commitment to doing exactly that". "You can not hide. We will find you, dismantle your organization and network and we will prosecute you".

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

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says this take-down shows the world that criminals can not use the dark web to hide any more. There, buyers and sellers are anonymous, and so is the currency, with most transactions happening through bitcoin.

On July 5, the same day that AlphaBay went offline, authorities in Thailand arrested Alexandre Cazes - a 25-year-old Canadian citizen living in Thailand - on suspicion of being the creator and administrator of AlphaBay. Thai police arrested Cazes earlier this month on behalf of the United States, though Cazes apparently committed suicide while in Thai custody, according to the Justice Department.

"I literally just found the ideal 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.

AlphaWeb operated much like any legitimate e-commerce site, including having a public relations manager, security administrator and "scam watchers", according to court documents.




AlphaBay ran like a normal online shopping site, allowing users to create login names and passwords and to search by category or name.

The takedown of AlphaBay coincided with efforts by Dutch law enforcement to dismantle another prominent dark web market called Hansa Market, which was also used to sell illegal drugs, malware, and counterfeit ID documents.

It had over 200 000 users and 40 000 vendors.

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

Cazes had been charged in a 16-count indictment with conspiracy to: commit identity theft, engage in racketeering, distribute narcotics, commit access device fraud, and launder money.

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.

Among the items the USA sued to seize are a 2013 Lamborghini Aventador, a Porsche Panamera, a BMW motorcycle, properties in Thailand, Cyprus, Liechtenstein and Antigua and Barbuda, and digital currencies including bitcoins, ethereum and ZCash.

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