Hydra Market was seized as part of a German and US law enforcement operation. It is the largest and longest-running dark market on the dark web, the submerged part of the Internet. Just think that in 2021 about 80% of all cryptocurrency transactions attributable to dark markets were those of Hydra. It has been operating (at least) since 2015 and it is estimated that during its business received about $ 5.2 billion in cryptocurrency.
The German Federal Police (Bundeskriminalamt), in coordination with US agents, has Hydra’s servers and cryptocurrency wallets for a value of 23 million euros were seized yesterday. At the same time, criminal charges were made against Dmitry Olegovich Pavlov who was in charge of managing Hydra’s servers. The thirty years old Russian will have to answer of association to delinquerand aimed at drug dealing and money laundering.
17 MILLION USER ACCOUNTS AND 19,000 SELLERS
Hydra had approximately 17 million user accounts and 19,000 sellers that accessed it via the Tor network. It was particularly popular with users from Russian-speaking countries and allowed to buying and selling illicit goods and services, including drugs, stolen financial information, and false identity documents. United States Attorney for the Northern District of California, M. Hinds, commented:
This coordinated action sends a clear message to anyone attempting to run or support an online criminal enterprise under the cover of the dark web. The dark web is not a place for criminals to operate with impunity or hide from US law enforcement and we will continue to use our sophisticated tools and skills to dismantle and disable darknet markets. This action also underlines the importance of international cooperation of law enforcement agencies. We thank the German authorities and the Bundeskriminalamt for their invaluable assistance.
ILLEGAL PRODUCTS AND SERVICES AT YOUR CLICK
The investigation revealed many details on how Hydra works. Sellers could create an account and advertise their illicit products; buyers, again after creating an account, could view the products and possibly buy them. Like a real online shop operating out in the open, there was no lack of a five-star seller rating system.
Between drugs for sale: cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD, heroin and other opioids. The substances were publicly advertised on the platform, often with photos and descriptions. As for the false documentsit was possible to apply filters to search for the product desired, for example on the basis of the type (passport, driving license, etc.) and the price. Some sellers also offered the ability to customize the document with photos and information provided by buyers.
Also for sale hacking tools and services – in the latter case the buyer chooses his victim (e.g. an account from which to steal personal data) and hires professional hackers to do the job. To complete it all, a wide range of services by money laundry (which allowed Hydra users to convert their bitcoins into the multiple currencies accepted by Hydra sellers) and to bitcoin mixing (customers pay in bitcoins by hiding the source or owner of the bitcoins).
Now it is hoped that Hydra does not keep its name, that is, that, like the mythological creature of the same name, one head will emerge from another. Unfortunately it is a rather recurring feature of dark markets that have the ability to reorganize and resurrect very quickly. But the warning of the police is clear: the attention towards the phenomenon of illicit markets of the Dark Web remains high.