The Frankfurt am Main Public Prosecutor’s Office – Central Office for Combating Cybercrime (ZIT) – and the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) today, Tuesday, secured the server infrastructure in Germany of the world’s largest illegal Darknet marketplace “Hydra Market” and thus closed it. Bitcoins amounting to currently the equivalent of approx. EUR 23 million were seized, which are attributed to the marketplace.
The preliminary investigation pending at the ZIT in this regard is directed against the previously unknown operators and administrators of the platform mentioned. Among other things, there is a suspicion of the commercial operation of criminal trading platforms on the Internet, the commercial procurement or granting of an opportunity for the unauthorized purchase or the unauthorized sale of narcotics and commercial money laundering.
The seizures carried out today were preceded by extensive investigations that have been conducted by the BKA and the ZIT since August 2021 and in which several US authorities were involved.
The illegal marketplace was a Russian-language Darknet platform that had been accessible via the Tor network since at least 2015. Their focus was on trading in illegal narcotics. In addition, data spied out worldwide, forged documents and digital services were offered profitably via the platform.
Around 17 million customer and over 19,000 seller accounts were registered on the marketplace. According to ZIT and BKA estimates, “Hydra Market” was probably the illegal marketplace with the highest turnover worldwide. Its sales amounted to at least 1.23 billion euros in 2020 alone. In particular, the “Bitcoin Bank Mixer” provided by the platform, a service for obfuscating digital transactions, has made crypto investigations immensely difficult for law enforcement authorities.