Justice Department announces takedown of AlphaBay, the largest dark web market

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Tue., June 13, 2017.

Reuters

WASHINGTON  -- Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other Justice Department officials announced a takedown of an internet marketplace for drugs, counterfeit goods, weapons, hacking tools and other illicit items.

Prosecutors say AlphaBay had 200,000 members and 40,000 vendors before it was taken offline. They say it was the largest of many illegal marketplaces that operate in hidden corners of the internet.

The site operated on the Tor network, which helps users browse the internet anonymously. Visitors to the online marketplace paid through digital currencies such as Bitcoin. Officials say hundreds of vendors advertised either fentanyl or heroin.

"The dark net is not a place to hide," Sessions said at a news conference Thursday.  

The takedown was part of a larger international effort to take down dark web sites, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said at the news conference.

The 26-year-old founder of AlphaBay, Alexandre Caze, was taken into custody by Thai authorities in early July, according to media reports. The Bangkok Post reported that shortly after his arrest, he was found dead in his cell. Thai authorities believe he committed suicide. 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other federal officials announced an indictment in California on Thursday of a suspected administrator of the site, and the Justice Department filed a forfeiture complaint to seize assets connected to the operation.