The Bundeskriminalamt (aka BKA), Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office, announced the official takedown of Hydra, the world’s largest illegal dark web marketplace.
“Bitcoins amounting to currently the equivalent of approximately €23 million were seized, which are attributed to the marketplace.”
Elliptic (Blockchain analytics firm) confirmed that the seizure was executed throughout 88 transactions totaling 543.3 BTC. Which is just a fraction of what the platform faciliated in transactions to date: over $5 billion.
More About Hydra Darknet Russian Marketplace Takedown
Hydra was launched in 2015 as a Russian-language darknet marketplace competitor to RAMP, the now-defunct Russian Anonymous Marketplace, which was known as a narcotics market before expanding to stolen credit cards and shady documents.
Hydra’s shutdown has been attributed to an extensive investigative operation started in August 2021 and conducted by the german ZIT: Central Office for Combating Cybercrime, in partnership with the U.S. law enforcement authorities.
Believe it or not, Hydra darknet marketplace ran estimated annual transaction volumes of $1.6 billion by the end of 2021, which is a clear rise from $6.6 million registered in 2016.
According to the BKA, more than 17 million customer accounts and 19,000 seller accounts were registered on the dark webshop, which is also believed to have collected $424.2 million in the first trimester of 2022 with the help of a Bitcoin Bank Mixer. This system made transactions harder to track.
New visitors to the marketplace will now be greeted with the following banner, that says:
“The platform and the criminal content have been seized by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) on behalf of the Attorney General’s Office in Frankfurt am Main in the course of an international coordinated law enforcement operation.”
The hunt of Hydra is just one action among several taken against illegal marketplace since the start of the years. Others taken down are UniCC, Canadian HeadQuarters, Ferum Shop, Sky-Fraud, Trump’s Dumps, and UAS.
And as the title indicates, the U.S. Treasury Department has also made an effort to disrupt the proliferation of cybercrime services inside the Hydra Market, by adding sanctions on the same day Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office announced their move.
“Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned the world’s largest and most prominent darknet market, Hydra Market (Hydra), in a coordinated international effort to disrupt proliferation of malicious cybercrime services, dangerous drugs, and other illegal offerings available through the Russia-based site.
The operation targeting Hydra was a collaborative initiative joined by the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and Homeland Security Investigations.”
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) also shared a list of over 100 virtual currency addresses associated with the entity’s operations that were involved in illicit transactions
Garantex, the third virtual currency exchange to be blocklisted by the U.S. after SUEX and CHATEX, was targeted in the sanctions. This service has been active since 2019, allowing customers to buy and sell virtual currencies using fiat currencies.
Most of Garantex’s operations are carried out in Moscow, including at Federation Tower, and St. Petersburg, Russia, where other sanctioned virtual currency exchanges have also operated.