Dark web marketplace has been shut down after law enforcement agencies in 3 countries carried out a coordinated operation to bring down the marketplace by confiscating assets as well as arresting admins.
AlphaBay dominated the dark web market scene after Silk Road had been shuttered. AlphaBay became the top dark web marketplace and remained so for quite some time; however, things took a u-turn after it went conspicuously offline about a week ago, prompting a wide range of speculation and conspiracy theories within the Dark Web community.
According to a report on The Wallstreet Journal, law enforcement agencies from the U.S., Canada, and Thailand worked in unison to carry out raids on July 5th to bring down the site, causing widespread chaos among Dark Web users.
While law enforcement agencies haven’t revealed details about the operations, it is believed that 3 raids were carried out in Canada where AlphaBay’s server and other equipment was confiscated, and yet another raid took place in Bangkok that resulted in the arrest of one of the site’s alleged administrator along with the seizure of his personal assets worth an estimated $11.8 Million.
There is no confirmation yet on the number and locations of the raids carried out on U.S. soil.
Reports indicate that the man arrested in Thailand was indeed one of the men behind Alphabay. Alexandre Cazes, a Canadian citizen, was arrested on the same day that the DarkNet marketplace was taken down. He was kept in custody inside a cell at the Narcotics Bureau of Bangkok, with a view to being extradited to the U.S. to face criminal charges.
In a macabre twist, Caze is believed to have hung himself to death in his cell on Wednesday. Social media sites like Twitter and Reddit are abuzz with discussion about the veracity of these claims. The AlphaBay subreddit is moderated by ‘deSnakes’ which could potentially be Cazes.
Ever since AlphaBay first went down mysteriously a week ago, its 400,000 users have lived in fear of losing their money, held in the form of Bitcoins in the site’s escrow wallets. Users either assumed the site was offline for technical maintenance or speculated that the admins had pulled off an ‘exit scam’ like previous DarkNet marketplaces like Evolution. Social media was full of posts highlighting the anger and frustration of these users.
Unlike the Silk Road, Alphabay was a more comprehensive marketplace that, apart from drugs, also dealt in firearms, stolen credit-cards, cyber-hacking, and cyber-fraud services. The biggest marketplace on the Dark Web, Alphabay averaged between $600,000 and $800,000 in sales per day according to research.
With AlphaBay all but dead, there is now a vacuum that needs to be filled. Experts and researchers alike believe that AlphaBay’s shut down only represents a minor and temporary impediment. It has happened before and has always resulted in other marketplaces stepping up to fulfilling the need for such services. Hansa, Dream Market, and RAMP are three marketplaces that have already been flooded with an exodus of AlphaBay’s users. There only seems one way forward in the long run for Dark Web marketplaces, up.