Since the birth of the Silk Road, there’s been a cat and mouse game between global law enforcement and darknet market (DNM) operators. Over the last two years, law enforcement agencies have knocked out a slew of markets like Hansa and the massive Alphabay. Months later, Dream and Wall Street disappeared and online DNM communities were deplatformed. Despite the obstacles along the way, there are still more than 12 active DNMs today and forums filled with hidden market participants that are growing in number once again.
The Last Two Years Have Been Hard for Darknet Market Participants
Global law enforcement has been dedicating significant energy toward shutting darknet markets down. It’s similar to the drug war on the streets, but the investigations and battles are fought in the deepest recesses of the web. In the summer of 2017, investigators made headway when a major operation orchestrated by the FBI, DEA, Dutch National Police, and Europol told the world it had shut down the massive DNM Alphabay. The marketplace, just like the Silk Road, sold illicit narcotics for cryptocurrencies and managed to attract 200,000 users and 40,000 vendors.
People could choose between 100,000 listings for fraudulent documents and more than 250,000 listings for marijuana and chemical substances. After the police teams shut down Alphabay, they also took over the DNM called Hansa, which saw a huge influx of users after Alphabay went dark. The law enforcement agencies operated Hansa undercover, collecting info on customers and vendors while recording