According to officials, DarkMarket, allegedly the world’s biggest dark web marketplace, has been taken offline by a Europol-coordinated international operation (via Gizmodo). The Australian man suspected to be the founder of the illegal site was detained by German law enforcement and 20 servers that hosted it was seized, putting an end to what had been a hotbed of illegal activity.
According to Europol, DarkMarket operated up to 500,000 customers before its closure and had processed over 320,000 transactions. From drugs and counterfeit currency through stolen credit card data and malware, the dark web marketplace has traded everything.
According to an estimation by Europol, the site has traded the equivalent of EUR 140 million in today’s money, in a combination of Bitcoin and Monero. European officials are preparing to use Ukraine and Moldova’s seized DarkMarket servers to prosecute buyers and sellers who have used the site for illegal transactions.
DarkMarket was uncovered as part of a broader probe into the web-hosting firm Cyberbunker, The Guardian reports. In the past, Cyberbunker (which is actually located in a former NATO bunker) hosted servers for both The Pirate Bay and WikiLeaks, and if this DarkMarket case is any example, it appears to be a valuable starting point for potential investigations into other illegal sites.
A vice-like grip has tightened around dark internet venues like DarkMarket over the last few years. During a European inquiry, Wall Street Market, another dark web marketplace, reached a similar end in 2020 and other websites such as Empire Market have vanished altogether, whether out of fear of punishment or the developers cutting theirs loses and taking the money.
As government departments have been more aggressive in tracking down these markets and more capable of understanding how they function, any advantage sites like Alphabay or The Silk Road had years ago seems to have vanished.