The Justice Department on Thursday said that it shut down AlphaBay, what it described as “the largest criminal marketplace on the internet,” more than two weeks after the market went dark.
The site was used to sell a wide range of contraband to a customer base of some 200,000 individuals worldwide, the DOJ said in a statement. Among the products for sale were illegal drugs, stolen and fraudulent identification documents and access devices, counterfeit goods, malware and other computer hacking tools, firearms, and toxic chemicals, DOJ said. The announcement follows news of the arrest and subsequent death in custody of Alexandre Cazes, who is identified as the creator and administrator of AlphaBay.
Cazes was charged in an indictment filed in the Eastern District of California on June 1, on counts ranging from conspiracy to engage in racketeering, to distribution of narcotics to identity theft and trading in false identity documents. FBI Director Andrew McCabe said that AlphaBay was ten times the size of the Silk Road, the previous king of the so-called “dark market” world.
Authorities in the United States worked with law enforcement authorities in Thailand, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Canada, the United Kingdom, and France, as well as the European law enforcement agency Europol. Together, the agencies froze millions of dollars’ worth of AlphaBay proceeds in the form of cryptocurrencies that were the subject of forfeiture counts in the indictment.
The take down also involved the shuttering of Hansa, another dark market that was considered a possible successor to AlphaBay. Dutch authorities reportedly obtained control of the Hansa Market in June 2017, when the two operators of the website were arrested. In the coordinated takedown, Dutch authorities obtained the usernames and passwords of thousands of Hansa users; they will use the collected data to conduct follow-up investigations.