World's Authorities Shut Down Internet's Largest 'Dark Market'

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Yet while the majority of firearms being sold shipped from inside the USA, the report's authors said Europe represents the largest market for dark web gun deals, "generating revenues that are around five times higher than the U.S". Seizure notices then appeared on the homepages of both AlphaBay and Hansa. Dutch authorities had already seized Hansa, another another major dark web market, the previous month. The DOJ also confirmed today that a Canadian national arrested in Thailand was Alpha02, one of AlphaBay's admin.

But the operation, carried out in cooperation between American and European law enforcement agencies, is unlikely to kill off the online drug market.

The Justice Department on Thursday said it had shut down one of the largest so-called dark net markets, AlphaBay.

"We will find you", Sessions said, in a press briefing, "dismantle your organization and network, and we will prosecute you". "We take no responsibility if you get caught, so protecting yourself is your responsibility".

AlphaBay and Hansa after the takedown.

Europol says Dutch police reaped a bonanza of intelligence after monitoring Hansa for one month.

Europol says that it's supporting ongoing efforts by the FBI, DEA, the Dutch National Police and other agencies and partners "on the forensic work that needs to be performed on huge amounts of seized material". The influx was so large, in fact, that Hansa put up a notice just last week that it was no longer accepting new registrations, a mysterious development given it Dutch police controlled it at the time. By acting together on a global basis the law enforcement community has sent a clear message that we have the means to identify criminality and strike back, even in areas of the Dark Web. Because sellers fled en masse from AlphaBay to Hansa when the latter website went down, police were able to monitor them in real time as they set up fresh accounts and began to do business.

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Law enforcement officials have struggled for years to crack down on these marketplaces, which are hard to locate because their software is distributed across the Tor network, which anonymises users and makes them nearly impossible to track.

This story will be updated throughout the day.

"The e-mail address of "pimp_alex_91@hotmail.com" was included in the header information of the AlphaBay welcome e-mail", the court filing continues. Another darknet marketplace, called Hansa, was shut down Thursday as part of the worldwide operation.

But fallout of the AlphaBay and Hansa takedowns may eventually be felt there as well.

Europol said the shutdown will lead to "hundreds" of new investigations in Europe. "What we have seen in the past is that people move around".

Andrew McCabe, acting director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, hailed the worldwide law enforcement co-operation that led to the takedown of the two marketplaces. "It's like demolishing a building".

He said: "The dark net is not a place to hide". "Looks like I'll be sober for a while".

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