German law enforcement authorities said on Wednesday that they had shut down what is likely the world’s largest dark web market, seizing hundreds of bitcoins worth more than $25 million in the process.
The Russian-language Darknet site called Hydra Market has been accessible via the Tor network since at least 2015, the German Central Office for Combating Cybercrime or (ZIT) and the Federal Criminal Police Office or (BKA) said in a joint statement.
After investigations since August 2021, authorities seized 543 bitcoins worth about €23 million ($25 million). They said several US agencies were involved in the investigation.
The market had about 17 million customers and more than 19,000 seller accounts were registered on site, which focused on the trade in illegal narcotics, German agencies said.
“In addition, data spied-out worldwide, forged documents & digital services were offered profitably via the platform,” acc. to press statement.
Sales on Hydra Market in 2020 were at least €1.23 billion. ZIT & BKA said the site’s Bitcoin Bank Mixer, a service provided by the platform to obfuscate digital transactions, makes crypto investigations “extremely difficult” for law enforcement agencies.
News of the seizure came a day after the US Department of Justice announced that it had seized $34 million worth of cryptocurrencies linked to illegal activity on the dark web. The seizure came through a civil forfeiture filing against a South Florida resident who “raised millions” by selling more than 100,000 illegal items under an online alias and hacking online account information on several of the world’s largest dark web marketplaces .
Florida filing marked one of the biggest crypto currency forfeiture actions on the record in United States, said DOJ.