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  1. ITV Report

Largest online dark web illegal market AlphaBay shut down

The AlphaBay online market was shutdown earlier this month. Credit: FBI/Europol

Two of the largest criminal dark web markets have been shut down after an international law enforcement operation.

The AlphaBay and Hansa websites had been used to trade illegal drugs, firearms, malware, stolen and fraudulent identity documents and more.

The former, was the biggest online criminal marketplace, and reached over 200,000 users and 40,000 vendors.

It operated using a hidden service on a network which effectively masked user identities and server location.

Prior to its takedown, its listings included more than:

250,000
for illegal drugs and toxic chemicals
100,000
other illicit items including fraudulent data, malware and firearms

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."

He added that the US faces the "deadliest drug crisis in its history", pointing to the fact that some of the "most prolific drug suppliers" use the dark web.

The US Justice Department said AlphaBay was a major source of fentanyl and heroin linked to an increase in deaths associated with overdoses.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said 'crime knows no borders'.

"This is an outstanding success by authorities in Europe and the US," Rob Wainwright, executive director of Europol.

"The capability of drug traffickers and other serious criminals around the world has taken a serious hit today," he added.

Europol's executive director hailed the success of the operation. Credit: .

The investigation

It was led by the FBI, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Dutch National Police.

Authorities in other countries including the UK, France, Lithuania and Canada also contributed.

Dutch Police took over the Hansa, the third largest dark web marketplace on 20 June.

They then covertly monitored criminal activities on the platform before it was shutdown on 20 July.

The joint operation led to the hidden sites being seized by law enforcement

Meanwhile, the alleged creator and administrator of AlphaBay, a 25-year-old Canadian was arrested in Thailand on 5 July.

Police also seized millions of dollars in assets, properties and luxury vehicles.

Alexandre Cazes was later found dead in a Bangkok jail, after apparently taking his own life, the US Department of Justice said.