Prominent digital drug marketplaces knocked out in 1-2 punch

Posted July 21, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, "The ability of these drugs to so instantaneously end these promising lives is reminder to us of just how incredibly risky these synthetic opioids are, especially when purchased anonymously from dark spaces on internet, and this is likely one of the most important criminal investigations of this entire year".

As of early this year, the department says there were hundreds of vendors advertising heroin and fentanyl on Cazes' Alpha-Bay.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would not have appointed Jeff Sessions as attorney general if he had known Sessions would recuse himself from the Russian Federation investigation, according to a New York Times interview.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions officially confirmed today a coordinated global law enforcement effort to take down AlphaBay after news of raids and arrests in the US, Canada, and Thailand leaked to the press last week.

"This is likely one of the most important criminal investigations of this entire year", Sessions said.

Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein said administrators and users of dark web sites are using anonymizing techniques and large-scale networks create challenges.

Dark net markets enable large-scale trading in chiefly illegal goods, such as drugs, weapons, child pornography, and ransom software.

The FBI, DEA and Dutch National Police led the investigation.

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AlphaBay and Hansa, two of the largest marketplaces on the Tor network, which helps users browse the internet anonymously, have been taken offline as the result of an investigation by the United States, working with police in Europe. Dutch authorities had already seized Hansa, another another major dark web market, the previous month. Millions of dollars in cryptocurrency were frozen and seized, as were servers in Canada and the Netherlands, according to the press release.

American and European law enforcement officials said Thursday they have shuttered two leading online drug marketplaces, seizing computer infrastructure and arresting a slew of individuals operating the illicit network.

AlphaBay's founder, Alexander Cazes, was arrested in Thailand, and USA officials successfully negotiated his extradition to the early July. "We will continue to find, arrest, prosecute, convict and incarcerate criminals, drug traffickers and their enablers, wherever they are".

"We are keenly aware that there will be another AlphaBay", said Chuck Rosenberg, acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency". Instead, they waited for the Federal Bureau of Investigation get hold of AlphaBay a few weeks later on 5 July.

AlphaBay launched in December 2014 and boasted more than 200,000 members and 40,000 vendors.

Speaking at a news conference in Washington DC, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said: "This is the kind of activities and investigative work we must do in this day and age because crime knows no borders".

Two of the drug traffickers on the website have also been identified and charged after heroin and a synthetic opiate purchased on AlphaBay were linked to overdose deaths in OR and Florida.