U.S. law enforcement officials say they have shut down AlphaBay, the largest online marketplace for the sale of drugs, weapons, fraudulent and stolen ID’s and other illicit products.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday described AlphaBay’s closure as “the largest dark net marketplace takedown in history.“
AlphaBay’s seizure came as Dutch authorities announced the takedown of Hansa Market, another dark net site. Authorities say Hansa Market sold illegal drugs, toxic chemicals, malware, counterfeit identification documents and illegal services.
According to an indictment unsealed on Thursday, AlphaBay was created in 2014 by Alexandre Cazes, a Canadian citizen who went by the online pseudonyms “Alpha02” and “Admin.”
The Justice Department says Cazes was living in Thailand, where he was arrested July 5 as part of an internationally coordinated operation to seize AlphaBay. U.S. authorities say Cazes apparently committed suicide on July 12 while in custody.
The European law enforcement agency Europol as well as authorities in Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands an Thailand took part in the operation.
Authorities say AlphaBay serviced more than 40,000 illegal vendors for some 200,000 customers who traded illegal drugs, stolen and bogus identification documents and access devices, counterfeit goods, malware and other computer hacking tools, firearms, and toxic chemicals worldwide.
The majority of AlphaBay’s business involved illicit drugs “pouring fuel on the fire of the national drug epidemic,” said Sessions.
“Around the time of takedown of the site, there were more than 250,000 listings for illegal drugs and toxic chemicals on AlphaBay – more than two-thirds of all listings on AlphaBay,” added the attorney general.
Sessions said several Americans were killed by drugs sold on AlphaBay, including an 18-year-old who overdosed on a powerful synthetic opioid she purchased on the dark market place and had delivered to her home.