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The Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, and EuroPol held a joint press conference to announce the news, which marks the latest in a series of
“This is likely one of the most important criminal investigations of the year—taking down the largest dark net marketplace in history,” Sessions said in a statement. “Make no mistake, the forces of law and justice face a new challenge from the criminals and transnational criminal organizations who think they can commit their crimes with impunity using the dark net.”
According to Sessions, AlphaBay was the largest marketplace on the dark web,” with “more than 200,000 users of the website and more than 250,000 listings for drugs.”
The websites were only accessible through the dark web, or a tiny fraction of the internet that can only be accessed using special software, such as the Tor browser.
EuroPol said a “conservative estimation” that $1 billion was traded on AlphaBay since 2014. Hansa was the third largest dark web marketplace, according to law enforcement.
The two websites were responsible for trading more than 350,000 illicit commodities, including drugs, firearms and malware, according to Europol.
Earlier this month AlphaBay went dark and shortly after a leading figure of the site died in a Bangkok jail, according to reports.
Alexandre Cazes, 26, was arrested on July 5 at the request of United States law enforcement, the Washington Post reported. He allegedly took his own life in jail on July 12, the DOJ said in a news release.
The DOJ said an investigation is ongoing into an AlphaBay staffer living in the United States.
Andrew Wyrich is a politics staff writer for the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the internet. Andrew has written for USA Today, NorthJersey.com, and other newspapers and websites. His work has been recognized by the Society of the Silurians, Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).