Two of the world’s most prolific dark web marketplaces, the Wall Street Market and the Silkkitie, have been taken down in simultaneous operations supported by Europol. “Significant” amounts of Bitcoin and Monero were seized as a part of the cross-border investigation.
Those behind the Wall Street Market, which was the second largest illegal online market on the dark web, were detained in Germany, and authorities in Finland shut down ‘Silkkitie’ earlier in the year. Suppliers of narcotics for Wall Street Market were also apprehended in the US as a part of the operation.
Wall Street Market was an online platform on the dark web that enabled the trade of a number of narcotics including cocaine, heroin, cannabis, and amphetamines, as well as stolen data, fake documents and malicious computer software. The platform could be accessed only by the Tor network and it had over 1.1 million registered users, 5400 sellers, and around 63,000 orders placed.
Buying and selling was conducted almost exclusively in Bitcoin and Monero with the owners of the marketplace receiving a commission of between 2 and 6 percent of the transactional value.
Police arrested three suspects and confiscated six figure amounts of the cryptocurrencies, as well as over half a million euros in fiat currency. Two individuals were also arrested in the US in connection with the investigation, accused of being the highest-selling suppliers of narcotics on the platform.
“The police officers seized over €550 000 in cash, alongside cryptocurrencies Bitcoin and Monero in 6-digit amounts, several vehicles and other evidences, such as computers and data storage,” said the Europol in a press release.
Silkkitie had been operating on The Onion Router (TOR) since 2013 and was known for its trade in narcotics and other illicit goods. Finnish authorities also seized a significant quantity of Bitcoin during their operation.
According to the Europol press release, The German Federal Criminal Police shut down Wall Street Market with the assistance of the Dutch National Police, Europol, Eurojust and US agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, Homeland Security, the US Postal inspection Service, and the US Department of Justice. Silkkitie, which was also known by the moniker ‘Valhalla’, was seized by Finnish Customs with assistance from the French National Police.
Europol’s Executive Director, Catherine De Bolle said in a statement that “these two investigations show the importance of law enforcement cooperation at international level and demonstrate that illegal activity on the dark web is not as anonymous as criminals may think.”
The two operations were the result of a coordinated law enforcement approach to tackling crime on the dark web. To achieve this, Europol established a dedicated Dark Web Team to reduce the size of the EU underground economy.
Crypto naysayers have long used the example of illicit dark web activities funded by cryptocurrency as a way to criticise the industry. But this recent news, as well as the EU wide initiative to crack down on dark web illegalities shows that authorities are ready, and able to take this seriously.