Officials from the U.S. and Germany have reportedly seized what they said was the world’s largest and most prominent darknet market, the Hydra Market, which works to sell illegal goods and services, a Bloomberg report said.
The Hydra Market had its servers shut down and crypto wallets containing $25 million worth in bitcoin were confiscated by German police on Tuesday (April 5).
The U.S. Department of Justice announced criminal charges against a Russian resident, Dmitry Pavlov, 30, for conspiracy to distribute narcotics and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The U.S. Treasury Department also announced sanctions against Hydra Market and a “ransomware-enabling” virtual currency, Garantex, which operates out of Russia.
Since 2015, Hydra reportedly sold illicit goods to numerous countries, most of them Russian speaking, with the wares including hacking software, fake IDs and drugs like heroin, cocaine and LSD, all openly advertised.
In addition, Hydra offered numerous money laundering and cash-out services to clean up illegal proceeds.
The report notes that Hydra made up around 80% of darknet market-related crypto transactions. Since 2015 it reportedly received around $5.2 billion in cryptocurrency.
Garantex was founded in 2019. It was originally registered in Estonia and most of its operations take place in Moscow now, according to U.S. officials, with over $100 million in transactions associated with illicit actors and darknet markets.
PYMNTS wrote that the DOJ also recently announced that an Estonian man had been sentenced to 66 months in prison for a yearslong scheme that included computer hacking, moving stolen goods and money, and using stolen financial account information to make money.
Maksim Berezan, 37, also operated ransomware attacks, causing over $53 million in losses, and was ordered to pay over $36 million in restitution. He was arrested in Latvia and extradited to the U.S.