On July 20, 2017, at 10:00 AM EST, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a joint international law enforcement operation resulting in the takedown of the AlphaBay Market. Formerly the most popular underground market in the Deep & Dark Web (DDW), AlphaBay facilitated numerous illicit activities, including narcotics trafficking and the sale of vast amounts of stolen personal and financial information.
According to Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, AlphaBay was ten times the size of the Silk Road — formerly the largest DDW marketplace that was responsible for over 1 billion USD in narcotics sales.
The multinational law enforcement effort — which included the participation of several FBI field offices, as well as coordination with partners in Thailand, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Canada, the United Kingdom, and France, as well as partners in Europol — also included a coordinated takedown of the English-language marketplace Hansa, formerly considered to be one of the successors to the AlphaBay Market following the latter’s July 4, 2017 shuttering. According to the DOJ, Hansa experienced an eight-fold increase in the number of users following the takedown of AlphaBay.
Dutch authorities reportedly obtained control of the Hansa Market in June 2017, when the two operators of the website were arrested. In the coordinated takedown, Dutch authorities obtained the usernames and passwords of thousands of Hansa users; they will use the collected data to conduct follow-up investigations.
The closures of both AlphaBay Market and Hansa Market mark the shuttering of two of the largest dark web markets to date.