One Dark Web market shut down a week ago and another went dark Thursday, law enforcement officials said.
Just after dark web market Alpha Bay shut down, one of its competitors, Hansa Market, also shut down.
Immediately after Alpha Bay went offline, users quickly jumped over to Hansa Market.
Europol, however, had other ideas.
“The capability of drug traffickers and other serious criminals around the world has taken a serious hit today after a highly sophisticated joint action in multiple countries,” said Rob Wainwright, executive director of Europol. “By acting together on a global basis the law enforcement community has sent a clear message that we have the means to identify criminality and strike back, even in areas of the Dark Web.”
Europol has been supporting the investigation of criminal marketplaces on the Dark Web for a number of years,” officials said.
With the help of Bitdefender, an Internet security company advising Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), Europol provided Dutch authorities with an investigation lead into Hansa in 2016, officials said. Subsequent enquiries located the Hansa market infrastructure in the Netherlands, with follow-up investigations by the Dutch police leading to the arrest of its two administrators in Germany and the seizure of servers in the Netherlands, Germany and Lithuania.
The Dutch National Police took over the Hansa marketplace on June 20 under Dutch judicial authorization. Since then, they have been using it to covertly monitor the platform until it shut down Thursday.
Dutch Police posted a note on the Hansa Market’s main page saying they have modified the source code of the site, and that allowed them to capture passwords, PGP-encrypted order information, IP addresses, Bitcoins, and other relevant information that many help law enforcement agencies identify users of the marketplace.
“In the past few weeks, the Dutch Police collected valuable information on high value targets and delivery addresses for a large number of orders. Some 10,000 foreign addresses of Hansa market buyers were passed on to Europol,” the agency said.