On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had shut down AlphaBay, a dark web marketplace that allowed global trade of drugs, computer hacking tools, firearms and other illegal items, with the help of international partners.
According to the authorities, this action was one of the biggest to ever be taken against criminals on the dark web. Dark web is the name of the part of the internet that an individual can get to only through a software, where they usually stay anonymous.
Along many other illegal goods, AlphaBay was the place for selling and buying drugs such as heroin and fentanyl, which in response added to the rising drug epidemic in the USA, according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Session added that the dark web wasn’t something that should be hidden and that the action of taking down AlphaBay was one of the most important criminal investigations of the year.
The action made a visible dent in the international drug trade that has been turning to online trade more and more over the years. Although, some experts are concerned that the results of this action won’t be as permanent as they would wish.
Frank Cilluffo, director of the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University, explained that while the action has been very important, it might just make the criminals move to similar places to continue with the trade.
What was widely considered as the biggest marketplace for drugs with hundreds of thousand of dollars being transferred via the site daily, went offline earlier this month all of the sudden, leaving its customers to wonder what happened.
Another marketplace that has been taken down around the same time was Hansa Market, the Justice Department stated, the works of their partners in Netherlands. The two sites were in the top 3 criminal marketplaces in the world, as told by Europol chief Rob Wainwright.
The action of shutting down the AlphaBay marketplace involved the actions of law enforcement in Thailand, Lithuania, Canada, Britain, and France.
The suspected founder of AlphaBay, Alexandre Cazes, was arrested on July 5th. Cazes, a Canadian citizen, was found and arrested in Thailand on the behalf of the United States. Authorities found Cazes passwords and other information thanks to the fact that he logged onto the marketplace at the time of his arrest.
A week later, while still in Thai custody, Cazes, who was 25, committed a suicide, the Department of Justice stated. Among the charges that he was facing were narcotics distribution, identity theft, money laundering and related crimes.
A similar dark web marketplace had been shut down in 2013, known under the name of Silk Road. But FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe told us that the AlphaBay was as much as ten times larger than Silk Road, showing up about a year after the smaller dark website had been shut down.