According to the officials, DarkMarket, the world’s largest dark web market, has been taken offline by a coordinated multinational operation of Europol (via Gizmodo). The German law enforcement authorities detained the Australian man suspected to be an illegal site operator and confiscated 20 databases that hosted it, putting an end to what had been a hotbed of unlawful behavior. Prior to its closure, DarkMarket had hosted up to 500,000 users and facilitated more than 320,000 transactions, according to Europol. The dark web market exchanged everything from drugs and illegal weapons to counterfeit credit card data and malware.
According to Europol’s estimation, the platform traded the amount of EUR 140 million in today’s currency, in a mix of bitcoin and monero. The European authorities are preparing to use confiscated DarkMarket servers from Ukraine and Moldova to investigate the buyers and sellers who used the web for illegal transactions.
DarkMarket was discovered as part of a broader inquiry into the web hosting firm Cyberbunker, The Guardian reports. Cyberbunker (which is currently housed in a former NATO bunker) has hosted servers both for The Pirate Bay and WikiLeaks in the past, and if this DarkMarket case is an instance, this seems to be a useful baseline for potential inquiries into other pirate sites.
Over the last few years, the aim-like grip has been tightened around dark web venues like DarkMarket. The Wall Street Market, another dark web marketplace, came to a similar end in 2020 during a European investigation and other sites such as Empire Market were totally gone, either out of fear of prosecution or by operators reducing their losses and taking the money. Whatever benefit sites like Alphabay or The Silk Road have had years ago seems to have vanished as federal agencies have become more active in tracking down these markets and more capable of knowing how they operate.