U.S. and German officials confirmed that,
an international law-enforcement effort had shut down the world’s largest “darknet” marketplace,
saying Hydra Market had facilitated ransomware attacks, drug deals and other criminal activity.
The move against Hydra, that predominately served Russian-speaking countries, is one of the biggest stings ever against the darknet, a network of websites in which users pay for illegal goods and services using cryptocurrencies.
*Dark net market penetration, chart by the Economist
The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said it was sanctioning Hydra and a Russia crypto-exchange, Garantex. where, more than $100 million of transactions on Garantex had been associated with criminals and darknet markets, including the Russian ransomware gang Conti and Hydra.
Garantex was initially registered in Estonia, whose authorities coordinated with the Treasury, WSJ said.
The Justice Department said Hydra accounted for 80% of all darknet-related crypto transactions last year, and that the illicit marketplace had received about $5.2 billion in digital currencies since it was started in 2015.