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It's 'lights out' for two more dark web marketplaces

06 May 2019
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Don’t be fooled if you see talk that Wall Street Market has been taken down – because it’s most likely not what you think.

Over the weekend Europol and various European agencies announced that they have taken down two notorious dark web marketplaces, called the Wall Street Market and the Silkkitie (also known as the Valhalla Marketplace.

“These two investigations show the importance of law enforcement cooperation at an international level and demonstrate that illegal activity on the dark web is not as anonymous as criminals may think,” says Europol executive director Catherine De Bolle.

More than 1.15 million users and 5400 vendors used the Wall Street Market to trade stolen data, malicious software, fake documents, and drugs, according to Europol.

During the takedown, German authorities arrested three suspects and seized more than €550 000 in cash, six-figure amounts of the Bitcoin and Monero cryptocurrencies, several vehicles and other evidence such as computers and data storage. Meanwhile, two of the most prolific narcotics suppliers on the Wall Street Market were arrested in the United States.

The German Federal Criminal Police (Bundeskriminalamt) shut down the Wall Street Market, under the authority of the German Public Prosecutor’s office. They were supported by the Dutch National Police (Politie), Europol, Eurojust and various US government agencies (Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, Homeland Security Investigations, US Postal Inspection Service, and the US Department of Justice)

The Silkkitie site, which has been operating since 2013, was taken down and Bitcoin was seized – but it didn’t stop drugs traders.

“After the Silkkitie (Valhalla) site was shut down by the authorities, some of the Finnish narcotics traders moved their activities to other illegal trade sites in the Tor network, such as Wall Street Market,” Europol says in a statement.

The Silkkitie and its contents was also seized by Finnish Customs (Tulli) in close cooperation with the French National Police (La Police Nationale Française).

Europol says it is focused on creating a coordinated law enforcement approach to tackle dark web crime. It set up a dedicated dark web team that works with EU partners and law enforcement across the globe to stamp out trading on the dark web’s ‘underground illegal economy’.

Its coordination is based around the following practices:

- sharing information;
- providing operational support and expertise in different crime areas;
- developing tools, tactics and techniques to conduct dark web investigations;
- identifying threats and targets. 

The team also aims to enhance joint technical and investigative actions, organise training and capacity-building initiatives, together with prevention and awareness-raising campaigns – a 360° strategy against criminality on the dark web.