Germany Shuts Down Hydra Market, Seizes Servers and Bitcoin – Hydra, a major darknet market in Germany, has been targeted by law enforcement. The German authorities were able to take control of the servers of the Russian-language platform in the country and shut down its website as part of an operation with US support.
German authorities seized Hydra Market’s server infrastructure, thereby shutting down one of the darknet’s largest marketplaces. Law enforcement agents also seized bitcoin worth roughly €23 million ($25 million), according to the Federal Criminal Police Office.
The raid was carried out in collaboration with the Frankfurt Public Prosecutor’s Office, Central Office for Combating Cybercrime, which is leading the investigation into Hydra’s operators and administrators. They are wanted for allegedly operating unlawful web portals that facilitate drug trafficking and money laundering.
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Hydra had been operating since at least 2015, according to German authorities, before the seizures, which occurred after intensive investigations by the Federal Criminal Police Office and the Central Office for Combating Cybercrime. They began in August of last year and were carried out with the help of numerous US government agencies.
The darknet market, which could be accessed through the Tor network, was aimed at Russian speakers. According to the news announcement, it has roughly 17 million clients and over 19,000 registered sellers. These also offered stolen data, falsified documents, and digital services in addition to banned substances.
Hydra surpassed another Russian network, DNM Ramp, to become a prominent darknet market. Eastern Europe sends more digital currency to darknet marketplaces than any other location, according to statistics provided by blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis.
Moscow is accused by the US of being involved with dangerous cyber actors such as DNMs, ransomware gangs, and other crypto-related criminality. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of the Treasury sanctioned the Russia-based crypto broker Suex in September, claiming it had collected more than $20 million from darknet markets like Hydra.
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The Treasury Department has imposed penalties on Hydra and Garantex, a cryptocurrency exchange. The trading network, based largely in Russia, is suspected of processing more than $100 million in transactions tied to criminal actors and darknet markets, including $2.6 million from Hydra.
Hydra was most likely the darknet market with the biggest global turnover, according to German law enforcement officials. Its sales are expected to reach at least €1.23 billion in 2020, according to the Federal Criminal Police Office and the Central Office for Combating Cybercrime. The probe was further impeded by the platform’s own ‘Bitcoin Bank Mixer’ service, according to the report.