Officials especially noted of the sale of fentanyl, a deadly opioid drug, on AlphaBay, saying in early 2017, 122 vendors advertised fentanyl and 238 advertised heroin on the marketplace. Prosecutors also linked multiple opioid-related deaths in the US to drugs that were traced back to AlphaBay.
Overall, the marketplace boasted more than 40,000 vendors and 200,000 users, according to the DOJ, citing an AlphaBay staff member. There were more than 250,000 listings for drugs and toxic chemicals, Sessions said.
The Dark Web refers a layer of the Internet only accessible through anonymizing networks. While anonymous browsers like Tor service a number of legitimate purposes — including protecting vulnerable individuals like political dissidents, for example — they also facilitate a robust criminal underground where everything from drugs to hacking materials to stolen identities to child pornography can be bought and sold.
AlphaWeb operated much like any legitimate e-commerce site, including having a public relations manager, security administrator and “scam watchers,” according to court documents.
According to the documents, Cazes was arrested in Thailand on July 5 and was found with his computer unlocked and open, logged in as the Admin of AlphaBay. Cazes was a Canadian citizen who was living in Thailand and also had obtained citizenship from Antigua and Barbuda, according to DOJ.
Court documents also said others were involved in the conspiracy and officials said they would also be investigating individuals who were found through undercover operations and in taking over Hansa before AlphaWeb was shut down, causing an influx of new users to Hansa that authorities were able to capture. One investigation of an AlphaBay staffer in the US is ongoing, DOJ said.
McCabe noted that other dark marketplaces would likely fill the void created by the law enforcement crackdown but warned criminals that the DOJ and its partners would never relent.
“We will go to the ends of the earth to find these people and to stop them,” McCabe said.