The Dark Web just got a little brighter thanks to the takedown of one site. AlphaBay, arguably one of the shadiest sites in a sea of human internet trading refuse, is effectively shuddered thanks to a police operation involving Thai officials acting under orders from the US.
Officials arrested Alexandre Cazes, aka Alpha02 and Admin, a Canadian citizen who was residing in Thailand while founding and operating AlphaBay. Unfortunately, Cazes committed suicide while in custody following his July 5th arrest.
According to a statement from the Department of Justice surrounding AlphaBay prior to its takedown, “one AlphaBay staff member claimed that it serviced over 200,000 users and 40,000 vendors. Around the time of takedown, 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. Comparatively, the Silk Road dark web marketplace, which was seized by law enforcement in November 2013, had reportedly approximately 14,000 listings for illicit goods and services at the time of seizure and was the largest dark web marketplace at the time.”
Officials around the world are hailing this as one of the largest victories for fighting back against Dark Web activity ever attempted. As the numbers show, AlphaBay was trading in a far higher volume than even the notorious Silk Road, which was then considered an unparalleled law enforcement victory. However, the DOJ recognizes that the work is far from over.
“This operation to seize the AlphaBay site coincides with efforts by Dutch law enforcement to investigate and take down the Hansa Market, another prominent dark web market. Like AlphaBay, Hansa Market was used to facilitate the sale of illegal drugs, toxic chemicals, malware, counterfeit identification documents, and illegal services. The administrators of Hansa Market, along with its thousands of vendors and users, also attempted to mask their identities to avoid prosecution through the use of Tor and digital currency. Further information on the operation against the Hansa Market can be obtained from Dutch authorities.”