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DOJ: Russia-linked Hydra Market, the world's largest darknet bazaar, has been seized and shut down

The world's largest and oldest darknet marketplace of illegal goods and services, Hydra Market, was seized and shut down by German authorities in collaboration with US criminal enforcement on Tuesday, according to the US Department of Justice.

One of Hydra Market's putative operators was also charged with conspiracy to distribute narcotics and money laundering by the DOJ.

The DOJ also reported that German Federal Criminal Police confiscated cryptocurrency wallets from the marketplace holding $25 million in bitcoin.

The darknet, also known as the dark web, is a collection of websites that are hidden from standard search engines and web browsers, with users accessing it via anonymous browsers.

According to the Justice Department, Hydra Market, whose customers were mostly from Russian-speaking countries, represented for around 80% of all darknet market-related bitcoin transactions last year.

According to the DOJ, Hydra Market has received nearly $5.2 billion in bitcoin for transactions on the site since 2015, raking in millions of dollars in commissions.

According to US prosecutors, Hydra Market allowed vendors of a wide range of drugs, including heroin, other opiates, cocaine, methamphetamine, and LSD, to connect with buyers who could grade dealers on a five-star scale.

The platform also allowed for the selling of forged identification cards, hacking tools and services, and bitcoin money laundering.

In connection with his operation and administration of the servers used to host Hydra, the DOJ said that it has obtained an indictment against Dmitry Olegovich Pavlov, a 30-year-old Russian resident, for conspiracy to distribute narcotics and conspiracy to launder money.

According to the DOJ, Pavlov allegedly ran a company that ran Hydra's servers beginning in late 2015, "allowing the market to operate as a platform used by thousands of drug dealers and other unlawful vendors to distribute large quantities of illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services to thousands of buyers, and to launder billions of dollars derived from these unlawful transactions."

"We have seized the infrastructure of the world's largest darknet market with our German law enforcement colleagues, but our job is far from over," US Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

"We will continue to cooperate with our international and interagency partners to disrupt and deconstruct darknet markets, and to bring those who conduct crimes on the dark web accountable," Garland said.

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