More than just a market for illegal drugs, the dark-web site allowed criminals to launder or cash out hundreds of millions in stolen cryptocurrencies.
German law enforcement agencies announced early Tuesday morning that German federal police known as the BKA—in a joint operation with the FBI, DEA, IRS Criminal Investigations, and Homeland Security Investigations in the US—seized Hydra’s Germany-based servers, shutting down the site and confiscating $25 million in bitcoins stored there.
- In doing so, they’ve put an end to, by some measures, the longest-running and most crowded black market in the history of the dark web, with 19,000 seller accounts and more than 17 million customer accounts, according to BKA.
- The US treasury simultaneously imposed new sanctions on the market and more than a hundred of its cryptocurrency addresses.
“It has this dual function of being a drugs market and a service for cybercriminals—and particularly Russian cybercriminals,” says Jess S. Symington, Elliptic’s research lead. “So it does impact more than just the drugs community, and it forces these individuals to now potentially reconsider how they’re going to launch their funds or cash out.”
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