20 July 2017
Two dark web marketplaces used to traffick drugs, guns and other illegal commodities have been taken permanently offline following a coordinated international operation.
The sites, known as Alphabay and Hansa, facilitated hundreds of thousands of criminal transactions a year.
The FBI-led strike against AlphaBay took place on July 4, while the Dutch police operation against Hansa was completed at 3pm today.
The NCA supported the FBI operation against Alphabay, providing intelligence and specialist capabilities along with international partners such as Europol.
Both sites were hosted on the so-called dark web. Pages on the dark web are accessible only through specialist web browsers and to those with a site’s specific address.
Accessing the dark web is not illegal but some criminal enterprises attempt to take advantage of the cover they believe it provides.
AlphaBay was considered one of the most significant sites on the dark web for illicit sales, wth more than 200,000 users and 40,000 vendors.
From today both Alphabay's users and visitors to Hanza will be greeted with a notice saying “This hidden site has been seized.”
Ian Cruxton, deputy director at the NCA, said: “Two of the most significant dark web criminal marketplaces are now permanently offline, seriously affecting the capability of several criminal networks.
“The NCA closely supported the FBI in the operation against AlphaBay, providing intelligence and specialist advice and capabilities.
“Law enforcement agencies will now begin to sift through the forensic material gathered during the strikes. The criminals who used these sites would be right to fear the outcome of those investigations.
“The darkweb may appear to offer criminals a degree of anonymity but law enforcement agencies are able to exploit that cover themselves and have a whole range of tools to go after their targets.”