The dark web consists of websites that can only be accessed by specialized software or hardware and cannot be found through normal search engines. There are many such websites that have been active for a long time.
However, on Thursday, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Justice Department announced that AlphaBay — described as a major source of fentanyl and heroin that has been linked to overdose deaths — had been seized and closed down.
“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.
AlphaBay advertised drugs, chemicals, counterfeit documents, weapons, and computer malware among many other items and services, cloaking users in anonymity. Authorities said AlphaBay alone was responsible for at least a billion dollars’ worth of transactions in bitcoins and other crypto-currencies.
Earlier this month, AlphaBay’s suspected founder, Alexandre Caze, was arrested in Thailand. A week after his arrest, he was found dead in his cell. Now, as soon as the authorities shut down the website, sellers started trading on other sites, as reported by Kela Targeted Cyber Intelligence, a Tel Aviv company that specializes in monitoring the dark net.
When AlphaBay was active, competitors Hansa and DreamMarket had about 5,000 new listings a week, Kela said. Once it went down, their new listings tripled to approximately 15,000 a week.
Another site called DreamMarket is still operating and thriving, with a dramatic increase in drug listings, according to Kela.
With AlphaBay being shut down, not only are the illegal commodities’ traders moving to other sites, the other sites, are witnessing heavy increase in sales volumes and traders as well.
Megha Shah for TechFunnel.com