(CNSNews.com) – The Justice Department announced Thursday that it has seized Alphabay, the largest criminal marketplace on the Internet, and plans to seize the assets of its late owner, Alexandre Cazes, a Canadian citizen.
Cazes was arrested by Thai authorities on behalf of the U.S. on July 5 in Thailand where he lived but committed suicide while in custody.
“This is likely one of the most important criminal investigations of the year – taking down the largest dark net marketplace in history,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “Make no mistake, the forces of law and justice face a new challenge from the criminals and transnational criminal organizations who think they can commit their crimes with impunity using the dark net. The dark net is not a place to hide.
“The Department will continue to find, arrest, prosecute, convict, and incarcerate criminals, drug traffickers and their enablers wherever they are. We will use every tool we have to stop criminals from exploiting vulnerable people and sending so many Americans to an early grave. I believe that because of this operation, the American people are safer – safer from the threat of identity fraud and malware, and safer from deadly drugs,” Sessions said.
Around the time of its takedown, there were over 250,000 listings for illegal drugs and toxic chemicals on AlphaBay, the DOJ stated, as well as over 100,000 listings for stolen and fraudulent identification documents and access devices, counterfeit goods, malware and other computer hacking tools, firearms and fraudulent services.
“Transnational organized crime poses a serious threat to our national and economic security,” Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe said. “Whether they operate in broad daylight or on the dark net, we will never stop working to find and stop these criminal syndicates. We want to thank our international partners and those at the Department of Justice, the DEA and the IRS-CI for their hard work in demonstrating what we can do when we stand together.”
Acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg said the “so-called anonymity of the dark web is illusory,” and he pledged to “find and prosecute drug traffickers who set up shop there.” The takedown of Alphabay is “a great example of our commitment to doing exactly that,” he said.
“This ranks as one of the most successful coordinated takedowns against cybercrime in recent years,” said Executive Director Rob Wainwright of Europol. “Concerted action by law enforcement authorities in the United States and Europe, with the support of Europol, has delivered a massive blow to the underground criminal economy and sends a clear message that the dark web is not a safe area for criminals. I pay tribute to the excellent work of the United States and European authorities for the imaginative and resourceful way they combined their efforts in this case.”