The Curious Cases of the 'Alphabay Kingpin' and Hansa Takedowns
This week we reported on the takedown of the two largest darknet markets on the deep web — Alphabay, and Hansa. Now reports further reveal how global law enforcement seized the alleged Alphabay administrator, Alexandre Cazes, as well as the internal investigation of the Hansa marketplace which collected data on more than 50,000 cryptocurrency transactions.
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Law Enforcement Seizes Alleged Alphabay Kingpin’s Luxury Cars and a Crypto-Portfolio Worth $8M
This week the global police force working on infiltrating darknet markets have revealed lots of info about their investigation. Now a forfeiture complaint details the asset seizure of Alexandre Cazes (Desnake), the alleged administrator for the Alphabay marketplace, who was found dead in his cell after his arrest in Thailand. According to the report from the U.S. court, officials confiscated over $8M in assorted cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, ether, and monero. Investigators say they obtained Cazes private keys from a text file found on his computer including another file detailing his net worth of $23M.
The complaint also details how authorities obtained warrants for cryptocurrency exchange accounts by tracing bitcoin transactions that came from the Alphabay administrator’s wallet. Cazes allegedly made commission off of every purchase made on the darknet marketplace. The court document reveals Cazes used cryptocurrency tumblers which processed “tens of millions of dollars in commissions.” Additionally, the report covered the extensive collection of luxury automobiles purchased by Cazes, one of them a Lamborghini worth $1M. Police say that Cazes used his business “EBX Technologies” as a front for his illegal activities and used the company to launder his Alphabay revenue.
“Approximately 1,605.0503851 bitcoins were seized from Alexandre Cazes and moved to a secure government-controlled bitcoin address,” explains the forfeiture complaint. “ Approximately 293.79476862 bitcoin was moved from server 3203 (Alphabay) to a secure government-controlled bitcoin address.”
Investigators say that the 25-year old Cazes was caught because he used his personal email “Pimp_Alex_91@hotmail.com” and messaged Alphabay users who lost their login credentials. This mistake allowed authorities to trace the email back to Cazes and begin monitoring his activities. Law enforcement has also revealed that Cazes was logged into the Alphabay as an administrator when he was initially arrested, similarly to the Ross Ulbricht arrest.
Dutch Police Infiltrate Hansa Market from Inside
According to the Netherlands Police and Public Prosecutor’s Office, authorities dismantled the Hansa darknet marketplace by taking over the site in early June. Law enforcement ran the illicit market while collecting customer data, sales revenue, and data on 50,000 cryptocurrency sales related transactions. The investigation and taskforce was also conducted with cooperation from officials from Germany, Lithuania, the U.S., and Europol.
“A total of more than 1,000 bitcoins have been seized” details the Netherlands prosecutor’s office.
On average, 1000 orders were made per day in response to some 40,000 ads. The market place counted in 1765 different sellers. Since the acquisition of Hansa Market’s management, more than 50,000 transactions have been counted, especially for soft and hard drugs.
The darknet taskforce revealed the two Hansa market administrators lived in Germany while other market workers resided in Siegen in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Further, the report also reveals that the downfall of the Alphabay was kept “secret” in order to continue working on the inside of Hansa. At the time Bitcoin.com reported on Hansa receiving a large swathe of new registrants and stopped accepting new customers.
“The goal was to attract unsatisfied Alpha Bay users to other marketplaces — On Hansa Market, the number of visitors increased from 1000 to 8000 per day,” explains the Dutch taskforce.
What do you think about the two largest darknet markets being infiltrated by global police? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via Shutterstock, and ABC News.
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