Wall Street Market, one of the largest Dark Web Marketplaces, was closed down on 3rd May 2019 by the joint efforts of several international law enforcement agencies, including Europol as well as U.S., German, Dutch and Romanian law enforcement.
Three suspected operators of the online marketplace for illegal goods and services have been arrested in Germany, while some of the highest-selling suppliers of narcotics were arrested in the United States.
The site had 1.5 million registered users, of which around 5,400 were believed to be dealers of drugs, including cocaine and heroin. The site also offered a means by which users could purchase forged documents, such as driver’s licenses and identity papers, and hacking tools.
Darknet markets are digital black markets only accessible through the Tor browser which encrypts identifiable information. Therefore, cryptocurrencies like bitcoins (BTC) and monero (XMR) among others, are used for payment.
These assets were also seized by police during the raid. According to reports, the seized cryptocurrencies were of the value of over €550,000 in cash. It is believed that for each transaction made on the site, the developers derived a profit in the range 2%-6% for every finalized sale.
Ryan White, a prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office LA, explained,
“The charges filed in Germany and the United States will significantly disrupt the illegal sale of drugs on the darknet. We believe that the Wall Street Market recently became the world’s largest darknet marketplace for contraband including narcotics, hacking tools, illegal services and stolen financial data.”
Cryptocurrencies have been associated with illegal and criminal activities right from its inception. One of the most significant accounts regarding the illicit use of crypto was the jailing of Silk Road founder, Ross Ulbricht back in 2013.
With the shutting down of Wall Street Market and the Dream Market going defunct, the recent “darknet market era,” with these two as market leaders, is coming to an end.
On the same day, authorities in Finland took down yet another dark web marketplace called Valhalla, also known as Silkkitie, which had been operating since 2013. According to local press in Helsinki, a “significant bitcoin seizure,” was made as a result of this raid too.
Europol’s Executive Director Catherine De Bolle commented in a statement published on the Europol website:
“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.”