Largest Dark Web Market Taken Offline as Alleged Operator Arrested in Germany

The DarkMarket site was thought to be the world's largest illegal online marketplace.

Jan 13, 2021 at 8:27 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:55 a.m. UTC

A 34-year-old Australian man accused of running the world's largest dark web marketplace has been arrested by German authorities close to the Danish border.

According to a report from Europol on Wednesday, the DarkMarket site was taken offline on Monday following a probe by German investigators with the assistance of Europol and seven other nations.

The illegal site had processed more than 320,000 transactions, had close to 500,000 users and over 2,400 vendors. More than 140 million euros (around US$170 million) in bitcoin and monero had changed hands on the site.

Various drugs, forged or stolen credit cards, anonymous SIM cards and malware made up some of the goods for sale on the site.

As part of the operation, more than 20 servers in Moldova and Ukraine have been seized. According to an ABC News report, police said the closure of DarkMarket follows a 2019 investigation into a server located in a former NATO bunker discovered in southwestern Germany. It was found to have been hosting other illegal sites, including DarkMarket at one stage.

Authorities from the U.S., Australia, the U.K, Denmark, Switzerland, Ukraine and Moldova assisted in the months-long operation.

The Australian operator, who has not been named, is being held in custody pending charges after an order from a judge and has yet to provide information to investigators.

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