On April 5, German police, with the help of U.S. law enforcement agencies, shut down Hydra, the world’s largest dark web marketplace, seized a large number of servers and confiscated $25 million in bitcoin (about 543).
The Hydra market is huge
It is reported that Hydra, also known as the “Hydra DarkNet Market”, is a well-known Russian darknet platform for drug sales and money laundering, which has been operating through the Tor Network (an anonymous network) since 2015 and has long carried out illegal activities such as drug trafficking, money laundering, data theft, and document forgery.
The amount of money seized reflects the size of Hydra’s market, which, according to incomplete statistics, has about 19,000 sellers registered accounts in the Hydra market worldwide, serving at least 17 million customers.
Separately, according to CNBC data, the U.S. Department of Justice said that since 2015, the Hydra market has received about $5.2 billion in cryptocurrencies for website transactions and earned millions of dollars worth of commissions from these sales.
Hydra before being shut down
The investigation has already begun
Shortly after the closure of the Hydra platform, Germany’s Central Office for Combating Cybercrime (ZIT) and the Federal Criminal Police (BKA) announced that in 2020, the turnover of the Hydra market will be around $1.35 billion, making it the world’s largest dark web market.
Currently, Hydra’s homepage shows that BKA has seized the market’s infrastructure with the help of U.S. law enforcement agencies.
It is worth noting that the research campaign on the Hydra market has already begun, and it was only after a long period of tracking the platform operators and administrators that Hydra was able to shut down.
The BKA noted in the announcement that the Hydra market has a bitcoin bank mixer that confuses all cryptocurrency transactions on the platform, making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to track funds obtained from illegal activities. At the same time, BKA stressed that the seized devices are likely to contain incriminating evidence about Hydra sellers and customers and that a large number of users could be prosecuted as the investigation progresses.
It is worth mentioning that a BKA spokesperson told Bleeping Computer that no one was arrested during the operation and that it was temporarily impossible to share any other information about the detained infrastructure as the investigation was ongoing.