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AlphaBay and Hansa dark web sites shut down

21 July 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would not have appointed Jeff Sessions as attorney general if he had known Sessions would recuse himself from the Russian Federation investigation, according to a New York Times interview. 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.

AlphaBay was allegedly run by Alexander Cazes, a 25-year-old Canadian who lived in Thailand.

Alexandre Cazes had four luxury cars and three Thailand homes seized after he was arrested on July 5 by the Narcotics Suppression Bureau at his home at Phutthamonthon Sai 3, Thawi Watthana district. AlphaBay was even larger than Silk Road, which was seized by law enforcement in November 2013.

The Dutch Police's effort to keep the Hansa Market operation was a stroke of genius, because troves of AlphaBay users created accounts and moved illegal operations on Hansa.

In taking down AlphaBay, federal authorities sought to leverage that dynamic to increase the impact of their operation taking down Hamsa, the world's third-largest dark web market. "We will find you".

AlphaBay and Hansa - two of the largest "dark web" marketplaces for illegal and illicit items such as drugs and guns - have been shut down, the US Justice Department said on Thursday.

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And it sounds like more arrests might be coming-the Justice Department says that the FBI and the US Attorney's Office in the Northern District of Georgia have identified an AlphaBay staff member living in the US, and the investigation into that person is ongoing.

The success of this operation doesn't mean that darknet drug markets will stay down for long.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein confirmed that Alpha Bay was part of a larger worldwide effort targeted at dark web market bases.

The site operated on "Tor" network and used cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Monero and Ethereum to hide the location of its servers, administrators and users. Now Dream Market will no doubt take more refugees from Hansa, to become the dark web's reigning bazaar of the moment. But before he could be extradited, Cazes was found dead from an apparent suicide in his cell in Thailand. "We face many challenges and require global assistance to overcome those challenges". Vendors who flee those sites for Dream Market may still be compromised by law enforcement, and if arrested, could potentially give up the addresses of any new Dream Market's customers, too.

"We could identify and disrupt the regular criminal activity that was happening on Hansa market but also sweep up all of those new users that were displaced from AlphaBay and looking for a new trading platform for their ciminal activities". That was likely money the site had held in escrow to assist in the exchange of illegal goods. The FBI didn't respond to WIRED's request for more information, and Europol declined to comment beyond its press statement.

AlphaBay and Hansa dark web sites shut down