In a press briefing at the Department of Justice today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and other law enforcement officials announced international cybercrime enforcement action against the darknet’s largest marketplaces: AlphaBay and Hansa Market. During the briefing, Sessions revealed that President Donald Trump had directed the Department of Justice to go after international cybercrime organizations such as AlphaBay.
“[Trump] gave us several directives,” said Sessions. “One is to dismantle internet transnational criminal organizations. That is what we are announcing today. Dismantling of the largest dark website in the world by far.”
Various agencies within the US Government worked with law enforcement in Thailand, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Canada, the United Kingdom, and France on the takedown of AlphaBay.
“The Deadliest Drug Epidemic in Our History”
During his opening remarks on the takedown, Sessions focused on an “epidemic” of opioid addiction in the United States.
“Among other challenges, our great country is currently in the midst of the deadliest drug epidemic in our history,” said Sessions.
Sessions claimed that an American dies of a drug overdose every eleven minutes and two million Americans are addicted to prescription drugs.
“We know of several Americans who were killed by drugs on AlphaBay,” Sessions added.
Sessions then told the story of an eighteen-year-old girl and thirteen-year-old boy who died after using synthetic opioids that were allegedly purchased from vendors on AlphaBay.
The Largest Darknet Market Takedown in History
According to Sessions, “some of the most prolific drug suppliers use what’s called the dark web,” which is where AlphaBay could be found before it was taken down by various law enforcement agencies around the world.
Sessions referred to the AlphaBay takedown as the largest darknet market takedown in history. Acting Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe later added that AlphaBay was ten times larger than the original Silk Road, which was taken down by law enforcement in 2013.
According to data shared by Sessions during the press briefing, AlphaBay had 40,000 vendors, 200,000 customers, and 250,000 listings. Out of those 40,000 vendors, 122 are said to have offered fentanyl for sale and 238 are said to have offered heroin.
“By far, most of this activity [on AlphaBay] was in illegal drugs, pouring fuel on the fire of a national drug epidemic,” said Sessions.
Law Enforcement is Aware That Their Work is Not Finished
Multiple law enforcement officials also indicated that their work is not done during the press briefing.
“Critics will say as we shudder one [darknet market], another will emerge,” said McCabe. “And they may be right. But that is the nature of criminal work. It never goes away. You have to constantly keep at it, and you have to use every tool in your toolbox.”
“We are keenly aware there will be another AlphaBay,” DEA acting deputy administrator Robert Patterson later added.
Multiple law enforcement officials in the press briefing also claimed that they have learned a lot over the years and continue to find better ways of preventing to proliferation of darknet market activities.
“I believe that because of this operation, the American people are safer,” said Sessions. “People around the world are safer.”