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World’s largest illegal darknet marketplace shut down in US-German operation

Authorities say they seized around $25m in cryptocurrency from Hydra

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Tuesday 05 April 2022 19:29 BST
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The world’s largest illegal darknet marketplace was shut down in a joint US-German operation that saw $25m in cryptocurrency seized, officials say.

German authorities worked with the US Department of Justice to take action against Hydra, a Russian-language site that officials allege specialises in drug dealing and is the longest running marketplace on the dark web.

“Today the German Federal Criminal Police, in coordination with US federal law enforcement, seized the servers of Hydra Market,” the Justice Department said in a statement on Tuesday.

The site’s infrastructure in Germany has now been shut down following the eight-month investigation.

Prosecutors in Frankfurt say that Hydra, which has more than 17 million customer accounts and has been operating since at least 2015, offers stolen data and forged documents in addition to drugs.

Investigators also found 19,000 seller accounts and say that in 2020 Hydra had $1.35bn in revenue.

Hydra served Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Moldova, according to blockchain forensics firm Ciphertrace.

Observers say that rather than sending “treasures” or goods via mail, Hydra transactions created a package of the goods that was left hidden in a physical location for the buyer to collect from a set of coordinates.

The buyer, seller or any courier would never come into physical contact with each other.

Cybercrime research firm Elliptic said Hydra has facilitated over $5bn in bitcoin transactions since 2015, according to the Associated Press.

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