Germany Takes Down Hydra, World’s Largest Darknet Market
The servers of Hydra Market, the most prominent Russian darknet platform for selling drugs and money laundering, have been seized by the German police.
The police were also able to seize 543 bitcoins from the profits of Hydra, which are currently worth a little over $25 million.
The confiscated money indicate the size of the Hydra market, which counted around 19,000 registered seller accounts that served at least 17 million customers around the world.
In an announcement today, the Central Office for Combating Cybercrime (ZIT) and Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) estimate that Hydra Market had a turnover of $1.35 billion in 2020, making it the largest darknet market in the world.
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Today, the blockchain analytics expert Elliptic, has confirmed the digital asset seizure from the authorities, tracking the action as 88 transactions amounting to 543.3 bitcoin.
Apart from narcotics and money laundering services, which were the main focus, Hydra also offered stolen databases, forged documents, and hacking for hire services.
Investigation into an obscured space
At the moment, Hydra’s homepage shows that the BKA acting on behalf of the Attorney General’s Office in Frankfurt am Main seized the market’s infrastructure following a coordinated international law enforcement effort.
This action was possible after a lengthy investigation directed against the previously unknown operators and administrators of the platform.
As the BKA announcement points out, Hydra Market featured a Bitcoin Bank Mixer, which obfuscated all cryptocurrency transactions made on the platform, making it hard for law enforcement agencies to track money obtained from illegal activities.
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At this time, it is unknown if the German authorities have made any arrests or if they hold identification information or even clues about Hydra’s core team.
Bleeping Computer has attempted to source more information in that regard, and we will update this post as soon as we hear back from BKA.
In the meantime, the seized equipment most likely contains incriminating evidence on Hydra sellers and clients, so a significant number of users could be charged in an upcoming second phase.
Update April 5 – A spokesperson of the BKA has told Bleeping Computer that no arrests have been made in this operation, and that due to the ongoing investigations, they cannot share any additional information on the evaluation of the seized infrastructure.