The U.S. Department of Justice announced that on April 5, it worked with the German authorities to crack down on the world’s largest and most well-known illegal trading darknet “Hydra Market”. In addition to forcibly shutting it down, the German Federal Criminal Police confiscated 543 Cryptocurrency wallet for 1 Bitcoin (worth up to $25 million).
Hydra Market users are mainly from Russian-speaking countries. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 80 percent of all cryptocurrencies bought and sold on the dark web in 2021 will be traded on Hydra Market. Since 2015, Hydra Market has traded about $5.2 billion in cryptocurrency, earning tens of millions of dollars in commissions.
U.S. prosecutors allege that sellers of drugs such as heroin, opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine, and lysergic acid diacetamide (LSD) can find customers through Hydra Market, who can rate the sellers on a five-star system . In addition, sellers can also sell fake ID documents, hacking tools, and bitcoin money laundering services through Hydra Market.
The Justice Department has filed a complaint against 30-year-old Russian resident Dmitry Olegovich Pavlov, accusing him of conspiring to use Hydra servers to distribute drugs and launder money. Pavlov is suspected of running a business that managed Hydra servers from the end of 2015, allowing sellers to distribute a large number of illegal drugs, contraband and services through the dark web, and laundering the illegal proceeds.
At the same time, the U.S. Treasury Department announced on the 5th that it would impose sanctions on Hydra and the Russian cryptocurrency exchange Garantex. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the sanctions send a message that criminals can no longer hide on the dark web or its forums.
Blockchain researchers point out that 86 percent of the illicit bitcoins collected by Russian cryptocurrency exchanges in 2019 came from Hydra.
The latest Treasury Department sanctions prohibit Americans from exchanging funds, goods or services through Hydra or Garantex and freeze those assets. This is done to thwart cybercrime, illicit drugs and other illegal services originating in Russia.