German officials have closed the server infrastructure of the Russian darknet market Hydra, confiscating € 23 million in bitcoin. This is reported by German Federal Police.
Along with the closure of servers located in Germany, the authorities are also launching an investigation into “unknown operators and administrators” of Hydra, who are suspected of drug trafficking and money laundering. German officials say they have been investigating the market since August 2021 with US assistance, but have not yet made any arrests.
According to Wired , the investigative company Chainanalysis, found $ 200 million in stolen cryptocurrencies that drifted on the platforms in 2021 and early 2022. Of that, $ 5 million was related to fraud, $ 4 million to extortion, and another $ 4 million came from sanctioned sources. In total, $ 2 billion in transactions came from “risky” sources.
In response to the closure, the US Treasury Department announced imposing sanctions on Hydra and the Russian cryptocurrency exchanger Garantex. States are also working to identify more than 100 cryptocurrency addresses associated with the illegal market. In this way, they make it clear to criminals that hiding on the dark side of the web will no longer work – as it will not be possible to hide in Russia or anywhere else in the world. The United States say they will continue to destroy these networks in collaboration with partners.
Hydra is a darknet market, primarily focused on crime in Russia and neighboring countries. It works as a hub for drug trafficking, stolen credit card information, counterfeit money and documents, and other illegal services. Through the site, dealers could communicate and transfer drugs, hiding them in places marked with geotags.
About 17 million users and 19,000 sellers “work” on the site. Hydra has the highest turnover ratio among other darknet markets in the world. In 2020 alone, the total turnover here was € 1.23 billion.
Although Hydra is best known for selling drugs, cryptocurrency laundering is also becomes a noticeable trend in the market. Cybercriminals can buy cryptocurrency in exchange for rubles, and later receive cash through payment applications such as YooMoney, Tinkoff or QUIWI. Other criminals used drugs to launder cryptocurrencies. The courier could bury the money in a designated place where the customer would later retrieve it.