US Department of Justice closes Russian dark web market Hydra

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The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has shut down Hydra Market, one of the largest darknet markets in the world. On Tuesday, the DOJ and German Federal Police seized Hydra’s cryptocurrency servers and wallets containing $25 million worth of bitcoins.

Hydra was an online criminal marketplace where primarily Russian users bought and sold illicit goods and services, including illegal drugs, stolen financial information, fraudulent identity documents, and money laundering and congregation services.

Transactions on Hydra were conducted in cryptocurrency, with operators earning revenue by charging a commission for each transaction made on the market.

In 2021, Hydra accounted for around 80% of all cryptocurrency transactions linked to the darknet market, and since 2015 the market has received around $5.2 billion in cryptocurrency, the DOJ said.

“The successful seizure of Hydra, the world’s largest darknet market, dismantled the digital infrastructure that had enabled a wide range of criminals – including Russian cybercriminals, cryptocurrency thugs and money launderers who support them and others, and drug dealers,” the FBI said. director Christopher Wray.

In addition to shutting down Hydra’s servers, the DOJ also filed criminal charges against Russian resident Dmitry Olegovich Pavlov for conspiracy to distribute narcotics and conspiracy to launder money in connection with his operation and administration of the servers used to operate Hydra.

Pavlov would be the administrator of Hydra’s servers. According to the DOJ, Pavlov administered the servers through a shell company called Promservice, also known as Hosting Company Full Drive, All Wheel Drive and 4x4host.ru. As an administrator active in hosting Hydra’s servers, Pavlov allegedly conspired with the other Hydra operators to foster the site’s success by providing the critical infrastructure that allowed Hydra to operate and thrive in a darknet market competitive environment.

A day before Hydra shut down, the DOJ also arrested a Florida-based man and seized $34 million worth of cryptocurrency from him as part of a dark web bust, which the department says is one of the most important to date.

The Florida man allegedly made millions using an online alias to make over 100,000 sales of illicit items and hacked into online account information on several of the world’s largest dark web marketplaces. Among the illicit items he sold were hacked online account information for popular services such as HBO, Netflix and Uber, among others.

The anonymous Florida man allegedly used tumblers and illegal dark web money transmission services to launder one cryptocurrency for another – a technique called chain hopping – in violation of federal money laundering laws money. A goblet is a dark web mixing service that aggregates multiple cryptocurrency transactions before distributing the cryptocurrency to a designated cryptocurrency wallet at random times and in random increments.

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