By Aaron Kesel
During a press briefing at the Department of Justice (DOJ), U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions revealed that president Donald Trump ordered the DOJ to go after “organized transnational cyber crime organizations operated on the darknet.”
“Donald Trump gave us several directives. One is to dismantle transnational criminal organizations. That is what we are announcing today. Dismantling of the largest dark website in the world by far,” Sessions said.
Sessions stated that the recent takedown of AlphaBay, a darknet market similar to Silk Road, is part of the battle against opioid addiction in the United States, adding that one American dies of a drug overdose every eleven minutes.
He then pointed out that he knew of several Americans killed by drugs sold on AlphaBay, and gave examples: “One victim was just 18 years old when, in February, she overdosed on a powerful synthetic opioid which she had bought on AlphaBay. The drug was shipped right to her house, through the mail,” Sessions said.
“This is likely one of the most important criminal investigations of this entire year,” he added.
Sessions expressed that darknet marketplaces and criminals aren’t safe from law enforcement, stating:
This case, pursued by dedicated agents and prosecutors, says you are not safe. You cannot hide. We will find you, dismantle your organization and network. And we will prosecute you.
In his closing statement, he said he believes the American people are now safer from identity fraud, malware, and drugs thanks to the takedown of AlphaBay and Hansa, two of the largest darknet marketplaces.
“Make no mistake, the forces of law and justice face a new challenge from the criminals and transnational criminal organizations who think they can commit their crimes with impunity using the dark net. The dark net is not a place to hide. The Department will continue to find, arrest, prosecute, convict, and incarcerate criminals, drug traffickers, and their enablers wherever they are. We will use every tool we have to stop criminals from exploiting vulnerable people and sending so many Americans to an early grave. I believe that because of this operation, the American people are safer – safer from the threat of identity fraud and malware, and safer from deadly drugs,” Sessions said.
“Transnational organized crime poses a serious threat to our national and economic security,” Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe said. “Whether they operate in broad daylight or on the dark net, we will never stop working to find and stop these criminal syndicates. We want to thank our international partners and those at the Department of Justice, the DEA and the IRS-CI for their hard work in demonstrating what we can do when we stand together,” he added.
Others have argued that AlphaBay gave people a way to peer review drugs, and these drug market places might have actually offered a safer buying option for addicts.
The Grugq wrote on Medium, “Great job ridding the world of a non-violent drug distribution channel that virtually eliminated risk and significantly reduced harm to addicts.”
AlphaBay’s alleged founder Alexandre Cazes was arrested on July 5 in Thailand at his home outside Bangkok and is alleged to have committed suicide shortly after while in a Thai jail on July 12.
Hansa’s operators were arrested and the website was taken over by authorities and controlled for a month leading to the potential that police have additional information on Hansa’s customers. Meaning we will likely hear of future arrests as the investigation into both Darknet websites continue.
As with the nature of the dark web, there will only be more marketplaces that pop up and subsequent takedowns to come under the Trump administration.
Watch full press briefing below: