Germany dismantles the world’s largest illegal market in ‘Darknet’

Juan Carlos Barrena

Berlin correspondent

Tuesday, April 5, 2022, 11:56

The Federal Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BKA) today announced the dismantling and disconnection of the largest known black market within the so-called “Darknet”, the dark Internet network in which illegal transactions with weapons or drugs, among other things, are carried out. The so-called “Hydra Market”, a Russian platform that had been operating since at least 2015, had about 17 million clients and more than 19,000 merchant and seller accounts. The BKA pointed out that “after extensive investigations” the server infrastructure has been intervened and “thereby closed the market.”

The German agents highlighted that this market had a turnover of 1,230 million euros in 2020 alone. Experts from the BKA and the Frankfurt Prosecutor General’s Office in charge of the case stressed that it is “the illegal market with the highest turnover in the world.” The researchers explained that “Hydra Market” was used primarily for the trade in drugs, stolen data and false documentation, as well as criminal services businesses, specific assignments to certain criminals.

The BKA highlighted as significant a so-called “Bitcoin Bank Mixer” within the market with which financial transactions were carried out using cryptocurrencies in a hidden manner, which made criminal investigations by authorities around the world extremely difficult. With the intervention of its servers this Tuesday, German agents also seized 543 bitcoins with a current market value of 23 million euros. On the platform’s website, the agents placed an announcement announcing its seizure.

The BKA noted that the investigations into the case began in 2021 and that the Central Office for Combating Internet Crime (ZIT) within the Frankfurt Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Federal Criminal Investigation Office have participated, but also several US agencies. Despite the seizure of the servers and the closure of the platform, researchers do not currently know the identity of its managers and administrators.

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