Dutch officials first gained control of Hansa Market in late June and continued to operate the marketplace in stealth while gathering data on its users, according to Europol. The Atlanta office of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia also have identified an AlphaBay staff member living in the United States, an investigation that is still ongoing, according to the Justice Department.
The Justice Department claimed today AlphaBay, started in 2014, contained "250,000 listings for illegal drugs and toxic chemicals.and over 100,000 listings for stolen and fraudulent identification documents and access devices". "Some 10,000 foreign addresses of Hansa market buyers were passed on to Europol".
The Justice Department on Thursday said it had shut down one of the largest so-called dark net markets, AlphaBay. "We will continue to find, arrest, prosecute, convict and incarcerate criminals, drug traffickers and their enablers, wherever they are. We take no responsibility if you get caught, so protecting yourself is your responsibility". A civil forfeiture complaint filed against Cazes noted that he used the handle alpha02-an administrator account on the AlphaBay site-and the account was open on his computer when law enforcement raided his home on July 5.
The 26-year-old was arrested the day after the site disappeared and was reportedly later found hanged in his jail cell in Bangkok. But on Thursday, European law enforcement revealed that a second darknet site known as Hansa had also been in police hands for the past month, an announcement deliberately created to sow panic among tech-savvy dealers and buyers.
Wainwright said officers are tracking down Hansa buyers and sellers through their usernames and passwords. "We recorded an eight-times increase in the number of new users on Hansa immediately following the takedown of Alphabay".
He said: "We are keenly aware there will be another Alpha Bay, but with each investigation we learn more".
Despite the size of the sites, the takedowns should by no means end the dark web's vibrant trade in drugs, which researchers at Carnegie Mellon estimated in 2015 to cumulatively generate revenue in the hundreds of millions of dollars, annually.
On Thursday officials from multiple countries revealed their role in the strike, and permanently shut down Hansa Market.
But fallout of the AlphaBay and Hansa takedowns may eventually be felt there as well. They then sat back and captured the identities of "all those new users displaced from AlphaBay who were looking for a new trading platform", Europe says.
"Unfortunately, the demand for these kinds of goods and services is large enough that we will always see other dark markets rise in place of those recently busted", said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy & Technology, a civil-liberties group in Washington. "Looks like I'll be sober for a while".
The Justice Department announced Thursday that together with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and global law enforcement agencies, officials had shut down "the largest darknet marketplace in history". Once AlphaBay went down, their new listings tripled to approximately 15,000 a week.