On Tuesday, April 5 2022, German executive authorities claimed about the Hydra Shop shutdown. The illegal online market was active for years, spreading illegal drugs, weapons, stolen goods and a lot of other outlaw things. Now, it seems to be over.
What is a Hydra Shop?
This Darknet marketplace did not choose its name randomly. According to the legend about the Lernaean Hydra, this creature was enormously hard to kill. Even if the hero managed to cut a single head off the tri-headed beast, two others were appearing from the section site. The Darknet market of illegal goods was also hard to kill – thanks to the onion routing used to connect this site. That marketplace is a place to purchase illegal drugs, weapons, counterfeit money or even malware.
Hydra Shop appeared in 2015, after the quasi-merger of two other darknet markets – Way Away and Legal RC.1 Those two were known for selling unique synthetic cannabinoids and designer drugs. In 2017 Hydra was considered to be one of the largest illegal markets in the world. It offered the users a wallet system: the user tops up an internal wallet with Bitcoins and then is able to pay for any goods available on that market. Listing your drug sale offers there was not free: $300 to register and $100 a monthly fee.
Hydra Shop servers seized
On April 5, 2022, Bundeskriminalamt (German Federal Criminal Police Office) issued a report where they stated about capturing the servers that were the backbone of the illegal marketplace. Along with servers, they told about crypto wallets that contained about 543 BTC in total. This equals over €23 million (assuming that 1BTC = €42,500). And, apparently, executive authorities also captured the crooks related to serving the Hydra infrastructure. Their persons, as well as number are not specified. They were accused of commercial operations of criminal trading platforms and assisting the unauthorized selling/purchasing of illegal goods, including narcotics and malware.
According to earlier reports, the Darknet marketplace accounted for almost 17 million users, and more than 19 thousand seller accounts. The gross sales in 2020 reached €1.2 billion, which is around the size of sales of an average European online retail company. Sure, the Darknet lost a very powerful marketplace, but it is not over – there are plenty of other markets which will take that “empty space” with pleasure.
How massive the Hydra Shop was?
Hydra is an example of how well the online illegal organization may be. As leaked data shows, these crooks had their own security service, chemists and experts in narcology. They even have their own marketing team – however, it is quite hard to find any ads of this market on the Western internet. The target market of Hydra is post-USSR countries.
Another example of how well the Hydra Shop is running is the fact that they tried to monetise their equity. In 2019, the user who is supposedly related to Hydra administration claimed about their wish to commence ICO. They intended to issue 1.47 million tokens each worth $100, creating a gross value of 147 million dollars. Isn’t that proof of the unstoppability of darknet activities? However, the trustworthiness of this thing is still questionable. Analysts say about the big chance of a rugpull scam in such a release. Nonetheless, this risk is present in all new cryptotokens.
Thoughts on Hydra shutdown
As I have mentioned, Hydra Shop has its target audience in the ex-USSR countries, primarily Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. The administration of this darknet marketplace is supposedly from Russia, too. Due to the current trends in the world, it is pretty logical to suppose that this action was just a German part of the global action against Russia. Illegal trading platforms are a perfect place for laundering, which became very popular after the massive sanctions against Russian politics and businessmen.
German executive authorities likely knew what was happening right in front of them. The successors of Stasi held this ace up in the sleeve for a perfect moment. And this is exactly the moment to release it. There were a lot of facts that Russian Federal Security Service (FSS a.k.a. FSB) has a tight relationship with cybercriminals who run Hydra. The latter were “feeding” the law enforcement with bribes and information regarding illegal activities that are happening or going to happen in Russia. This mesalliance was running well, but had a single weak spot – which was successfully exploited by Germans.
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- Information about Hydra Shop on Wikipedia (Russian)