from the what's-next? dept.
An international investigation has taken down two dark web marketplaces:
Two of the largest dark web marketplaces have been shut down following a "landmark" international law enforcement investigation.
The AlphaBay and Hansa sites had been associated with the trade in illicit items such as drugs, weapons, malware and stolen data.
According to Europol, there were more than 250,000 listings for illegal drugs and toxic chemicals on AlphaBay.
Hansa was seized and covertly monitored for a month before being deactivated.
The agency said it believed the bust would lead to hundreds of new investigations in Europe.
"The capability of drug traffickers and other serious criminals around the world has taken a serious hit today," said Europol's executive director Rob Wainwright.
[Ed. addition] The US Department Of Justice announcement goes into considerable detail about the size of the site and the products carried there, as well as the agencies around the world which assisted with the takedown.
Further, Ars Technica UK explains the critical opsec mistake that lead to the takedown:
Federal officials confirmed the recent death of Alexandre Cazes, whom they said was the Thailand-based Canadian mastermind behind AlphaBay, and announced that civil forfeiture actions had also begun. That documents say that as of June 2017, AlphaBay had over 369,000 listings.
Authorities also distributed a criminal indictment against Cazes from the Eastern District of California on numerous conspiracy and drug trafficking charges.
[...] The civil forfeiture complaint outlines a crucial operational security mistake that Cazes made when he began the site in 2014. When new users signed up, they received an e-mail from AlphaBay welcoming them to the site.
"The e-mail address of "firstname.lastname@example.org" was included in the header information of the AlphaBay welcome e-mail," the court filing continues.
This e-mail address was also included in the header of AlphaBay users who lost their passwords.
Canadian authorities were able to determine that that Hotmail account was registered to a man named Alexandre Cazes with a birthdate of October 19, 1991—hence the "91." They further confirmed this e-mail address under the "Alpha02" handle (the same handle used by the head of AlphaBay) in a French language online tech forum, which included Cazes' name and his "pimp_alex_91" e-mail address.
"The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place. If they don't start, they won't have a problem." – President Donald J. Trump
President Trump has declared the "Opioid Crisis" a nationwide public health emergency. This action will allow for "expanded access to telemedicine services" to remotely prescribe medicines for substance abuse, allow the Department of Health and Human Services to "more quickly make temporary appointments of specialists with the tools and talent needed to respond effectively to our Nation's ongoing public health emergency", allow the Department of Labor to issue dislocated worker grants for those "displaced from the workforce" due to the Opioid Crisis, and will help people with HIV/AIDS to receive substance abuse treatment. The press release lists several actions that the Trump Administration has taken to respond to the Opioid Crisis, including the July 2017 law enforcement action against AlphaBay.
The declaration has been criticized for not requesting any funds to respond to the Crisis. The "nationwide public health emergency" declaration is also distinct from a promised "national emergency declaration", which would have freed up money from the Disaster Relief Fund to be spent on the Crisis. 14 Senate Democrats have introduced a bill that would authorize $45 billion to address the Opioid Crisis. The Obama Administration called on Congress last year to pass just over $1 billion in funding for opioid treatment programs nationwide. This funding was included in the 21st Century Cures Act.
The Department of Justice has arrested and charged the founder and majority owner of Insys Therapeutics Inc., John Kapoor, along with other executives from his company. Kapoor is accused with leading a nationwide conspiracy to bribe doctors and illegally distribute the company's fentanyl spray, intended for cancer patients, so that it could be prescribed for non-cancer patients. Kapoor stepped down as CEO of Insys in January. Acting U.S. Attorney William D. Weinreb said, "Mr. Kapoor and his company stand accused of bribing doctors to overprescribe a potent opioid and committing fraud on insurance companies solely for profit. Today's arrest and charges reflect our ongoing efforts to attack the opioid crisis from all angles. We must hold the industry and its leadership accountable - just as we would the cartels or a street-level drug dealer." Six former Insys executives and managers were charged in December.