The US Justice Department announced on Thursday that it had shut down the dark web marketplace AlphaBay, which has been accused of facilitating a global trade in drugs, firearms, computer hacking tools and other illicit goods.
AlphaBay allowed users to sell and buy opioids, including fentanyl and heroin, contributing to a rising drug epidemic in America, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a news briefing in Washington, D.C. to announce the action, Reuters reports.
“The dark net is not a place to hide,” Sessions said. “This is likely one of the most important criminal investigations of the year.”
AlphaBay was widely considered the biggest online black market for drugs, estimated to host daily transactions totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Authorities said the law enforcement action was one of the largest ever taken against criminals on the dark web, part of the internet that is accessible only through certain software and typically used anonymously.
The Justice Department said law enforcement partners in the Netherlands had taken down Hansa Market, another dark web marketplace.
AlphaBay and Hansa Market were two of the top three criminal marketplaces on the dark web, Europol chief Rob Wainwright said at the press conference.
The international exercise to seize AlphaBay’s servers also involved authorities in Thailand, Lithuania, Canada, Britain and France.
FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe said AlphaBay was ten times as large as Silk Road, a similar dark website the agency shut down in 2013.
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