German Authorities Shut Down Russian Darknet Market, Seize $25M in Bitcoin

German Authorities Shut Down Russian Darknet Market, Seize $25M in Bitcoin largest illegal darknet marketplace Hydra

German police said Tuesday they have shut down servers of the world’s largest illegal darknet marketplace Hydra. The authorities confiscated 543 Bitcoins worth around 23 million euros ($25 million) at the time of the seizure.

Suspects are being investigated for “operating criminal trading platforms on the internet on a commercial basis,” The Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office said in a statement.

The raid also involved the takedown of Bitcoin Bank Mixer, a well-known cryptocurrency mixer that allowed users to obfuscate the origin of ill-gotten funds.

Investigations of the Russian illegal marketplace started in August 2021 and also involved several US authorities, the BKA said.

Founded in 2015, Hydra served Russian-speaking markets, selling narcotics but also stolen credit card data, counterfeit currency, and fake identity documents, masking the identities of those involved using the Tor encryption network.

The marketplace had around 17 million customer accounts and over 19,000 vendor accounts, according to the BKA.

Federal police found 17 million customers and 19,000 seller accounts. Hydra Market probably had the highest turnover among illegal marketplaces in the world, according to the statement. In 2020, the marketplace had €1.23 billion ($1.35 billion) in revenue, the police said.

Hydra Market had been operating since 2015 and was accessible via the Tor browser. The site has been taken off the internet.

The homepage for Hydra is now replaced with a message from German authorities saying the platform was seized.