The General Public Prosecutor’s Office Frankfurt am Main – Central Office for Combating Internet Crime (ZIT) – and the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) seized the server infrastructure of the world’s largest illegal darknet marketplace “Hydra Market” located in Germany today (Tuesday), thus closing it down. Bitcoins were seized in the current equivalent of approximately EUR 23 million, which are attributed to the marketplace.
The investigation pending at the ZIT is directed against the so far unknown operators and administrators of the aforementioned platform. Among other things, they are suspected of operating criminal trading platforms on the Internet on a commercial basis, providing or granting an opportunity for the unauthorized acquisition or unauthorized sale of narcotics on a commercial basis, and money laundering on a commercial basis.
The seizures carried out today were preceded by extensive investigations, which have been conducted by the BKA and the ZIT since August 2021 and involved several U.S. authorities.
The illegal marketplace was a Russian-language darknet platform accessible via the Tor network since at least 2015. Its main focus was the trade in illegal narcotics; in addition, data spied on worldwide, forged documents and digital services were offered for profit via the platform.
Approximately 17 million customer accounts and over 19,000 seller accounts were registered on the marketplace.
According to estimates by ZIT and the BKA, “Hydra Market” was probably the illegal marketplace with the highest turnover worldwide. Its sales amounted to at least 1.23 billion euros in 2020 alone. In particular, the “Bitcoin Bank Mixer” provided by the platform, a service for concealing digital transactions, made crypto investigations immensely more difficult for law enforcement agencies.
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Whether this spells the end of Hydra Market has yet to be seen, though: Some scene insiders assume that the market could bounce back soon.