Huge blow to the criminal underground in the dark web, authorities shut down AlphaBay and Hansa black marketplaces

Pierluigi Paganini July 20, 2017

In a coordinated International operation, Europol along with FBI, US DEA and Dutch Police have seized and taken down AlphaBay and HANSA black markets.

It’s official, the US Attorney General Jeff Sessions confirmed that US and European police shutdown of two major “dark web” marketplaces, AlphaBay and Hansa. It has been estimated that both marked had tens of thousands of sellers of illicit goods serving more than 200,000 customers worldwide.

AlphaBay Hansa shutdown

According to the US Justice Department, at the time it was shut down, AlphaBay had more than 250,000 listings for illegal drugs.

It also had 100,000 listings for guns, stolen and fraudulent personal documents, counterfeit goods, malware and computer hacking tools.

“This case, pursued by dedicated agents and prosecutors, says you are not safe, you cannot hide. We will find you, dismantle your organization and network, and we will prosecute you,” Sessions said in a clear message to crooks that abuse of anonymizing system for their dirty affairs.

The AlphaBay Market went down last week on Tuesday, July 4th apparently without any explanation. The event caused the panic among the community of its users, many of that have purchased products on the marketplace was fearing the Exit-Scam.

A few days after the disconcerting disappearance, an article published in the  Wall Street Journal confirmed the AlphaBay Market shut down after authorities in the United States, Canada and Thailand conducted several raids and arrested Alexandre Cazes, who is suspected to be one of the operators behind the AlphaBay Market.

Cazes was identified due to a mistake that most cyber criminals do which allowed authorities to discover his real identity and led to his arrest.

Cazes was using his personal email [email protected] to send out support emails to all members of AlphaBay.

The email address was associated with a Canadian man named Alexandre Cazes with the birth date October 19, 1991, who was the president of a software company called EBX Technologies.

Local authorities have taken him into custody in Bangkok on July 5th, on the same day the police executed two raids on residences in Quebec, Canada.

The story has a sad ending, Cazes was awaiting extradition to the United States when a prison police officer found him dead in the jail cell, according to the Chiang Rai Times, Cazes has hanged himself using a towel.

The AlphaBay shutdown has a significant impact on the cybercrime underground, many activities associated to AlphaBay migrated to the smaller Hansa marketplace.

Unfortunately for the tens of thousands of users that have chosen the Hansa black markets as the successor of the AlphaBay, they were tracked by the Dutch police that meantime had taken control of Hansa servers.

The Dutch police identified and tracked buyers and sellers of illicit goods, then the police have shut down Hansa.

The seizure of the AlphaBay and Hansa black marketplaces allowed authorities to frozen millions of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

Wainwright added that authorities identified numerous organized crime figures in 37 countries around the world.

“This operation is an example of the improving concerted ability of law enforcement to strike against criminals, even on the dark net,” he said. “This coordinated hit against these two marketplaces is just a taste of what is to come in the future.”

The Europol published an official announcement that confirmed the shutdown of two of the criminal Dark Web markets AlphaBay and Hansa.

“This is an outstanding success by authorities in Europe and the US. The capability of drug traffickers and other serious criminals around the world has taken a serious hit today after a highly sophisticated joint action in multiple countries,” added Rob Wainwright, Europol Executive Director. 

“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. There are more of these operations to come.”


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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – AlphaBay, Hansa)

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