Dismantling the largest Russian global platform for selling on the dark web (Dark Web)
German and US authorities announced that they have dismantled the “largest” global dark web selling platform called “Hydra Market” and has been operating in Russian since 2015, seizing bitcoins worth 23 million euros.
"The servers of the world's largest darknet market have been confiscated and 543 bitcoins with a total value of about 23 million euros have been confiscated," the Frankfurt Public Prosecutor's Office and the Federal Criminal Police Office said in a joint statement.
Investigators suspect that the platform, which attracts 17 million customers, is used for criminal activities and money laundering through more than 19,000 seller accounts.
Sales on the Hydra Market platform amounted to about 1.23 billion euros in 2020 alone, making it “the illegal market with the highest sales volume in the world,” according to the statement.
“Hydra dominates the market because Ukraine and Russia are the largest users of cryptocurrency in the world,” Bloomberg quoted Kim Groer, head of research at Chainalysis, as saying.
The Russian-language site, which can be accessed via Tor, was mainly used for drug trafficking, stolen data and forged documents.
German authorities indicated that a poster had been placed on the Hydra website indicating that the police had seized it.
The use of a sophisticated service called the “Bitcoin Bank Mixer” allowed for the concealment of digital financial transactions in cryptocurrencies, which made the investigation more difficult, according to the Federal Criminal Police Office.
Investigations began in 2021, but the identities of the operators and those responsible for the platform are still unclear.
The dismantling of the platform was carried out in cooperation with the US authorities, according to the Federal Office of the German Criminal Police.
In Washington, US Attorney General Merrick Garland said, "Together with our German partners, we have seized the infrastructure of the largest darknet market in the world, but our work is not done," pledging to continue working to dismantle all such platforms on the darknet.
And the US judiciary had previously charged Russian Dmitry Pavlov, 30, with an indictment for managing servers used to run Hydra.
According to the indictment, Pavlov is being pursued on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering as part of a criminal gang.
The US Treasury has also imposed economic sanctions on Hydra as well as the Garantex virtual currency exchange.
In addition, “more than 100 addresses” were identified of people who received money in the context of cryptocurrency transactions conducted through Hydra and that were “used to carry out illegal transactions.”
The statement quoted US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen as saying that these measures send "a message to criminals that you cannot hide on the dark web or on its forums, and you cannot hide in Russia or anywhere else in the world," stressing the seriousness of "the global threat that poses a threat to the world." It is represented by cybercrime and ransomware, and its source is Russia.”
The German authorities had previously dismantled the DarkMarket platform in early 2021. At the time, investigators presented this platform as the "widest" point of purchase on the electronic black market.
And this operation, a few months later, led to the arrest of 150 people who were buying or selling drugs or weapons all over the world.
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