Police shut down ‘Hydra’, one of the biggest dark web markets

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Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA)

Image: Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA)

German authorities have shut down and seized the servers of Hydra, one of the largest dark web marketplaces.

On Tuesday, the German Central Cybercrime Office (ZIT) and the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) announced the operation in a press release where they called Hydra “the largest illegal darknet market in the world,” according to a Google translation of the announcement. Authorities said the seizure and closure was carried out on the grounds that Hydra facilitated the purchase of illegal drugs and money laundering, and the investigation was carried out by several German authorities with the assistance of US authorities. .

Hydra was “a Russian-language darknet platform” that had been online since 2015. The marketplace had 17 million customers and more than 19,000 seller accounts, authorities said. Authorities estimated that market sales amounted to 1.23 billion euros in 2020.

Police replaced Hydra’s homepage with a banner announcing the operation.

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Hydra has facilitated over $5 billion in Bitcoin transactions since its inception in 2015, according to Ellipticala blockchain intelligence company.

“The platform specialized in the sale of drugs, although the listings on the site also included fake documents, data (such as credit card information) and digital services. The products have been announced for sale in a number of countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan,” Elliptic wrote in a blog post. “Hydra also offered additional offerings including a crypto-asset exchange and withdrawal services. Its in-app exchange was also notorious for laundering funds from the Bitfinex exchange hack 2016.”

Do you have any information on this law enforcement operation? We would love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai securely on Signal at +1 917 257 1382, Wickr/Telegram/Wire @lorenzofb, or email lorenzofb@vice.com

German authorities said they seized Bitcoin worth $25.3 million. The seizure was confirmed by Elliptic, which found 88 transactions made on Tuesday totaling 543.3 Bitcoin.

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