The Dark Web and the illegal marketplaces it spawns has been a menace ever since the Silk Road sage unraveled a few years ago. However, the end of Silk Road was not the end of those illegal marketplaces that dealt in guns, drugs, contract killers and other illegal Goods And Services. Illegal marketplaces like AlphaBay and Hansa continued to flourish but yesterday both marketplaces were shut down.

A huge breakthrough

The shutting down of AlphaBay and Hansa by US Law Enforcement Agencies and police in Europe comes as a huge breakthrough in the war against illegal dark web marketplaces selling illicit goods and services. The FBI along with the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Dutch National Police worked together to bring down the two marketplaces.

In order to understand the scale of the operation, it is important to look at some of the numbers.

In order to understand the scale of the operation, it is important to look at some of the numbers. While Silk Road was the pioneer, it was nothing in size and scope when compared to these two sites. AlphaBay, for instance, has a user base of 200,000 while around 40,000 vendors sell a variety of illegal goods and services to the customers. Following the demise of Silk Road 4 years ago, AlphaBay emerged as the most popular marketplace on the dark web and according to some estimates, drug related transactions worth thousands of dollars were completed on the site every day.

A menace

These websites cannot be accessed through regular internet browsers. Users need to use Tor browser in order to access them and payments are made through bitcoins, which ends up making the entire transaction untraceable.

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Drugs like heroin and opioids were readily available to buyers in the United States. Jeff Sessions, the US attorney general said: “We know of several Americans who were killed by drugs on AlphaBay. One victim was just 18 years old when in February she overdosed on a powerful synthetic opioid which she had bought on AlphaBay.” Needless to say, the website had become a menace.

The founder of AlphaBay Alexandre Cazes was arrested earlier this month in Thailand and the law enforcement agencies from Britain, Canada, Thailand, France, and Lithuania cooperated with the US authorities to bring down the criminal operation. Calez, however, committed suicide while he was being held in police custody in Thailand. Sessions went on to say that the operation concluded perhaps the most important criminal investigation of the year.