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Dark web marketplace shut down

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The Trump administration just announced a dark net shutdown that investigators call “the largest dark-market web place takedown in world history.”

The dark web, or dark net, is part of the internet only accessible using special software, servers, and authorizations.  Because of the secrecy, and its anonymous nature, the dark web is often used for criminal activity ranging from human trafficking and child pornography to illegal drug, forged document, and weapon sales.  The FBI says they have seized and shut down the largest of these illegal marketplaces, a site called “AlphaBay.”

According to investigators, an AlphaBay staffer once claimed the site hosted more than 40,000 vendors, selling to more than 200,000 customers.  When it was shut down, AlphaBay had about 350,000 illegal goods and services listed for sale.  For comparison, Silk Road, the dark web site shut down in 2013, had about 14,000 listings for illegal products and services.  Investigators say AlphaBay was also a significant source of Fentanyl and Heroin linked to overdose deaths in the United States, including one in Portland, Oregon earlier this year.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says this take-down shows the world that criminals cannot use the dark web to hide any  more.

“We will find you,” Sessions said in a press briefing, “dismantle your organization and network, and we will prosecute you.”

On July 5th, authorities in Thailand arrested a Canadian man suspected of creating and overseeing AlphaBay, but he will not face prosecution.  The FBI says the suspect apparently committed suicide in jail a week after his arrest.