The website allegedly trafficked in illegal drugs, stolen documents, counterfeit goods and "other computer hacking tools, firearms, and toxic chemicals throughout the world", according to the Justice Department.
AlphaBay and Hansa, two of the Dark web's largest markets, were taken down as part of a joint effort involving multiple law enforcement agencies.
Europol describes taking Hansa and AlphaBay offline as "one of the most sophisticated takedown operations ever seen in the fight against criminal activities online", adding it will lead to hundreds of new criminal investigations in Europe. "You can not hide. We will find you, dismantle your organization and network and we will prosecute you". After AlphaBay's shutdown, many of its users also flocked to another site known as Dream Market, which is likely the second-largest marketplace, ahead of Hansa.
The Dutch National Police actually seized control of Hansa on June 20, but continued running the site to covertly monitor the platform until it was shut down a month later.
Cazes, 25, apparently took his life a week later while in Thai custody, the Justice Department said.
Two of the largest online black-market sites have been shuttered in a law-enforcement crackdown, but drug dealers have moved in a hurry to a third "dark net" emporium, where listings of fentanyl and heroin have already spiked, according to analysts. "We will find and prosecute drug traffickers who set up shop there, and this case is a great example of our commitment to doing exactly that".
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"The dark net is not a place to hide".
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.
Sessions said the DOJ had seized the infrastructure and arrested the criminal market's owner, ending speculation about why AlphaBay had recently disappeared. This system, as well as administrators' insistence that customers use digital currency like Bitcoin rather than traditional government-backed money, allows users and administrators alike to buy and sell illicit goods with relative anonymity. The Bangkok Post reported that shortly after his arrest, he was found dead in his cell.
AlphaWeb operated much like any legitimate e-commerce site, including having a public relations manager, security administrator and "scam watchers", according to court documents.
Law enforcement authorities in the United States and overseas also seized millions of dollars worth of Bitcoin and other assets allegedly belonging to Cazes, including four Lamborghini cars and three properties.
The US government sued to seize luxury cars, global real estate and bitcoins owned by the alleged mastermind of AlphaBay, the biggest criminal marketplace on the dark web, just days after he reportedly hanged himself in his jail cell in Thailand.