DarkMarket – ‘The worlds largest darknet marketplace – Shut Down By German Police
German authorities say they have taken down the ‘world’s largest’ darknet marketplace and arrested a 34-year-old Australian man who allegedly used it to sell drugs, stolen credit card data and other illegal goods.
Police in Oldenburg shut down DarkMarket and turned off its server on Monday after arresting the alleged operator at the weekend, a statement said today.
German prosecutors said the man was trying to flee Denmark into Germany when arrested and was travelling through Europe either on holiday or conducting business for the illegal website.
They said the investigation around DarkMarket originated after the discovery of a data processing center run by organized criminals in a 5,000sqm former NATO bunker in south-west Germany.
At the time of its closure, DarkMarket had nearly
- 500,000 users
- 320,000 transactions
- 4,650 Bitcoin and 12,800 Monero
At current exchange rates, that represented turnover valued at €140million (£125million).
The marketplace offered ‘all kinds of drugs’ as well as ‘counterfeit money, stolen and fake credit card data, anonymous SIM cards, malware and much more,’ it is alleged.
German prosecutors said the website was brought down by a months-long international investigation involving the FBI and other foreign law enforcement.
The investigation, which was led by the cybercrime unit of the Koblenz Public Prosecutor’s Office, allowed officers to locate and close the marketplace, switch off the servers and seize the infrastructure – more than 20 servers in Moldova and Ukraine supported by the German Federal Criminal Police office (BKA).
‘Investigators expect to use the data saved there to launch new probes against the moderators, sellers and buyers of the marketplace,’ prosecutors said.
The prime suspect was brought before a judge but declined to speak. He was placed in pre-trial detention.
The American FBI, DEA narcotics law enforcement division and IRS tax authority took part in the probe along with their German colleagues.
The investigation also involved police from Australia, Britain, Denmark, Switzerland, Ukraine and Moldova, with Europol playing a ‘coordinating role’.