German and U.S. governments have joined forces to crackdown and shutdown one of the largest dark web markets on Earth, known as Hydra marketplace. Both Berlin and Washington have slapped heavy sanctions on the organisation, and Berlin managed to shutdown servers belonging to the Russian based site while simultaneously seizing millions of dollars in revenue.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Department declared that Hydra and an associated crypto exchange called Garantex would be subject to harsh penalties as part of a “coordinated international effort to disrupt [the] proliferation of malicious cybercrime services, dangerous drugs, and other illegal offerings.”
“Our actions send a message today to criminals that you cannot hide on the darknet or their forums, and you cannot hide in Russia or anywhere else in the world,” stated U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. She also added that Washington “will continue to disrupt these networks” with assistance from allies’ suck as Germany and Estonia.
The department added that Hydra is “complicit” in “cyber-related activities” which could cause a threat to “national security, foreign policy or economic health” of the United States. It is claimed that the marketplace offered ransomware, “hacking services and software,” counterfeit currency and stolen information amongst other things. Hydra has seen a massive upturn in revenue in recent years, with estimates of its 2020 revenue being in excess of $1.3billion US.
Germany’s Federal Criminal Police agency said that it had successfully “secured and shut down [Hydra’s] server infrastructure in Germany,” seizing a further $25 million U.S. from a Bitcoin linked to the marketplace. This was a culmination of a joint investigation of German and U.S. authorities which was launched in August 2021.
At the same time Washington initiated actions against Garantex cryptocurrency exchange. The platform was registered in 2019 in Estonia and is primarily operated out of Moscow and St. Petersburg. U.S. Treasury also stated that “analysis of known Garantex transactions shows that over $100 million in transactions are associated with illicit actors and darknet markets,” including $2.6 million U.S. directly linked with Hydra.