Europol Reveals a Multinational Takedown of a Crypto-Based Dark Web Marketplace

“Double blow to dark web marketplaces” is the title of the press release by Europol that details the events which led up to the shutdown of a website on the dark web as well as the arrest of suspects involved in maintaining it.

In the press release, Europol announced that with assistance of the German police, they have shut down the servers of a dark web marketplace. The marketplace was used for a plethora of illegal activities and the police also seized 6 figures in cryptocurrency from the suspects arrested in the operation.

The Wall Street Market, reportedly the world’s second-largest dark web market, has been shut down by the German Federal Criminal Police. The police were working under the authority of the German Public Prosecutor’s office. Total assets and value confiscated in the operation include the following:

• Over 550,000 euros ($615,000) in cash
• Bitcoin(BTC)trade and Monero (XMR) in six-figure amounts
• Cars
• Computers
• Hard drives

In the press release, Europol mentions that the website had over 1.15 million registered users. 5,400 of these individuals had been involved in any number of illegal activities such as selling and buying of drugs, weapons, stolen data, fake identities, fake documents, and malicious software.

The second blow to the dark web marketplaces that Europol specified in this press release was another bust, this time by Finnish authorities, of the dark web market place called Silkkitie. Finnish Customs’ reports suggest that a sizable amount of Bitcoin was also seized in this operation.

The press release notes:

“For several years, narcotics and other illicit goods have been sold via this marketplace. Silkkitie is one of the oldest and internationally best-known Tor trade sites. After the Silkkitie (Valhalla) site was shut down by the authorities, some of the Finnish narcotics traders moved their activities to other illegal trade sites in the Tor network, such as Wall Street Market.”

Catherine De Bolle, executive director of Europol, has released the following statement, addressing the operations by Europol and the German Police:

“The importance of law enforcement cooperation at an international level and demonstrate that illegal activity on the dark web is not as anonymous as criminals may think.”

The fact that cryptocurrencies had been seized from both operations is another sad testament to the fact that cryptocurrencies are being used to benefit illegal activities behind illicit closed doors (and especially on the dark web). Those critical of oversight over cryptocurrencies and crypto exchanges from governing authorities have been denying these allegations; unfortunately however, the evidence seems to be mounting against them.

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