US authorities said they were also involved in the closure of the Hydra Market marketplace and filed charges against its administrator.The Ministry of Justice filed charges in absentia against the Russian Dmitry Pavlov, who was allegedly the administrator of Hydra, and the Ministry of Finance announced sanctions against the Garantex cryptocurrency exchange, which was associated with the Hydra Market.
Earlier this week, it became known about the liquidation of Hydra Market, the largest Russian trading platform on the darknet. During the operation, the German authorities were able to seize 543 bitcoins (about $25 million at the current exchange rate) from the criminals, as well as confiscate the resource’s servers.
At the time of the closure, Hydra had about 19,000 registered seller accounts, serving at least 17,000,000 customers worldwide, according to law enforcement officials. At the same time, the Hydra Market turnover in 2020 was estimated by the authorities at 1.35 billion US dollars, which made the site the largest illegal trading platform on the dark web.
The German authorities made no arrests related to the closure of Hydra, and their statements did not contain any names, but the US Department of Justice filed charges in absentia against the Russian Dmitry Olegovich Pavlov. The alleged admin of Hydra is accused of conspiracy to distribute drugs, as well as conspiracy to launder money.
According to U.S. authorities, Pavlov operated the marketplace’s servers through a shell company, Promservice, also known as Hosting Company Full Drive, All Wheel Drive, and 4x4host.ru. As Hydra’s server administrator, Pavlov allegedly colluded with other marketplace operators to help develop the site and provided criminals with the critical infrastructure that allowed Hydra to operate and thrive in the competitive darknet environment.
Pavlov is said to have received millions of dollars in “commissions” by facilitating the work of Hydra. Interestingly, the day before the Hydra shutdown, the US Department of Justice also reported the arrest of a man living in Florida, who was seized with $34 million worth of cryptocurrency. The arrest was reportedly related to the closure of a major dark web marketplace, which the department said was one of the largest to date.
A Florida man allegedly made millions of dollars selling over 100,000 illegal goods. Among the illegal items he sold were account credentials for popular services such as HBO, Netflix and Uber.
Let me also remind you that we reported that Underground marketplace Hydra makes $1.37 billion in cryptocurrency transactions.
In addition, the US authorities announced that they are imposing sanctions on Hydra and the Garantex cryptocurrency exchange. As U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken tweeted, these coordinated actions “demonstrate our commitment to continue destroying infrastructure and [undermining] ransomware.”
Garantex is accused of facilitating money laundering operations carried out on Hydra, which directly violates existing anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulations.
It is noted that Garantex, originally registered in Estonia, has already faced legal problems in this country, having lost its license to provide services in February 2022 after an investigation by the Estonian Financial Intelligence Service.
Also, the US Department of the Treasury published a list of 100 cryptocurrency addresses directly related to Hydra operations. Now these addresses should be blocked by all powerful blockchain companies.
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