Dismantling of the ‘largest’ global darknet platform

BERLIN | The “largest” site selling drugs, false papers or even counterfeit money, hosted on the Darknet, has been dismantled and its alleged manager arrested, the Koblenz prosecutor’s office in Germany announced on Tuesday.

The alleged operator of “DarkMarket”, presented by investigators as the “largest” point of sale of the underground internet, a 34-year-old Australian, was arrested this weekend at the German-Danish border, specifies the parquet floor in a press release.

He was remanded in custody.

“More than 20 servers in Moldova and Ukraine” were also seized, added the prosecution, which carried out its investigations for “months” with police officers from the Oldenburg Central Criminal Investigation Department. Police forces from several countries, such as the United States, Great Britain, Denmark, Moldova and Ukraine, have also been called upon.

The platform was dismantled on Monday after the server shutdown, according to the Koblenz prosecutor’s office.

For investigators, DarkMarket was “arguably the world’s largest Darknet marketplace, with nearly 500,000 users and more than 2,400 sellers.”

“In total, at least 320,000 transactions were made there”, settled in cryptocurrencies Bitcoins and Monero. Their total amount could amount, according to the Koblenz public prosecutor’s office, to 140 million euros (217 million C $).

This platform was “mainly used for the sale of drugs of all kinds,” said the prosecution.

“Counterfeit money, stolen or falsified credit card data, anonymous SIM cards” or even computer viruses were also on sale.

The data entered must now allow, warns the prosecution, to open up new avenues of investigations towards resellers, moderators and customers.

Clandestine bunker

The dismantling of this clandestine marketplace is linked to the haul in September 2019 in Germany against a major host of illegal darknet services called “Cyberbunker”, said the prosecution.

This illegal datacenter installed in a former NATO bunker, in the Rhineland-Palatinate countryside, is suspected of having hosted several drug sales platforms, but also servers used for trafficking child pornography images or cyber attacks .

A trial is underway in Germany to try the criminal offenses alleged against the hosts of “Cyberbunker”. Four Dutchmen, three Germans, and a Bulgarian are among the accused.

The Covid-19 epidemic has led to a reorganization of drug trafficking, with an acceleration in the use of darknet transactions, noted the latest annual report from the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

In another international operation against the darknet in September, dubbed “Disruptor”, 179 people were arrested in six countries for drug trafficking in particular, while around 500 kilograms of narcotics and $ 6.5 million in cash and cryptocurrency had been seized.

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