Two major dark web marketplaces -- Wall Street Market and the Silkkitie -- have been shuttered in global operations and several parties have been arrested, according to Europol.
Wall Street Market, which has 1.1 million users and 5,400 sellers, was brought down by the German Federal Criminal Police in an operation supported by Europol and U.S. agencies including the Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, Homeland Security Investigations, Postal Inspection Service and Department of Justice, according to Europol.
Wall Street Market facilitates the criminal trade in stolen data, malicious software, fake documents and drugs, including cocaine, heroin, cannabis and amphetamines, Europol says. The operators received commissions of 2% to 6% of all illegal sales on the platform, Europol states.
As part of the global operation, U.S. prosecutors have charged three German nationals with being the administrators of Wall Street Market. The three are in custody in Germany and also face charges there.
In an apparent “exit scam,” the three diverted all of the virtual currency held in marketplace escrow and user accounts, totaling $11 million, to their own accounts, prosecutors allege.
The three have been charged in the U.S. with conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, and distribution and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. They include a 23-year-old resident of Kleve, Germany; a 31-year-old resident of Wurzburg, and a 29-year-old resident of Stuttgart.
In addition, Marcos Paulo De Oliveira-Annibale of Sao Paulo, Brazil was indicted in U.S. District Court in Sacramento for drug distribution and money laundering. He allegedly acted as a moderator on Wall Street Market.
Two of the largest drug distributors on Wall Street Market — named Platinum45 and Ladyskywalker — were based in the Los Angeles area, prosecutors say.
“The dark web marketplace, Wall Street Market, was one of the largest operating hosts for vendors peddling illegal wares,” states DEA San Francisco Special Agent in Charge Chris Nielsen.
Meanwhile, German Police seized over €550 000 in cash, along with Bitcoin and Monero in six-digit amounts, vehicles, computers and data storage, Europol says. The global operation was also supported by the Dutch National Police and Eurojust.
In another action, the Silkkitie (known as the Valhalla Marketplace) and its contents were seized by Finnish Customs, working in cooperation with the French National Police.
Finnish Customs made a significant drug seizure, authorities state.
Both of the sites operated networks such as Tor to conceal user identities, prosecutors allege.