Hansa marketplace shuttered along with AlphaBay

It has emerged that a second criminal Dark Web site – Hansa – has also been taken offline by enforcement agencies clamping down on illicit trade.

Last week it emerged that another site called AlphaBay – thought to be the largest marketplace of its type for drugs, weapons, stolen data and counterfeit goods – was taken down. Now it has been confirmed by Europol, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in the US and the Netherlands police that Hansa has also been deactivated.

Europol describes taking Hansa and AlphaBay offline as "one of the most sophisticated takedown operations ever seen in the fight against criminal activities online", adding it will lead to hundreds of new criminal investigations in Europe.

The two sites were at the centre of an underground criminal economy responsible for the trading of over 350,000 illicit commodities including drugs, firearms and cybercrime malware, it said in a statement.

AlphaBay was considered to be the largest criminal marketplace on the Dark Web, with 200,000 users and 40,000 sellers at its height and an estimated $1bn in transactions going through the site – in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin – since it was set up in 2014.

Enforcement agency monitoring uncovered more than 250,000 listings for illegal drugs and toxic chemicals, and over 100,000 listings for stolen and falsified IDs, counterfeit goods, malware and other computer hacking tools, firearms, and fraudulent services.

Hansa was the third largest criminal marketplace on the Dark Web, trading similarly high volumes in illicit drugs and other commodities, according to Europol.

Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, said the Dark Web is "a threat to our societies and our economies that we can only face together, on a global scale."

"The take-down of the two largest criminal Dark Web markets in the world by European and American law enforcement authorities shows the important and necessary result of international cooperation to fight this criminality," he added.

As reported last week, AlphaBay's alleged founder Alexandre Cazes has been taken into custody in Thailand. Meanwhile, Dutch police took over the Hansa marketplace on 20 June after two men in Germany were arrested and servers in Germany, The Netherlands and Lithuania were seized, allowing the authorities to covertly monitor transaction until the site was eventually taken down today.

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