The Hansa darknet marketplace has been shut down by law enforcement officials. This news comes as a big surprise, considering that the AlphaBay platform disappeared not too long ago as well. These are troublesome times for darknet users, as law enforcement officials seemingly have their finger on the pulse of every marketplace in existence right now. So what will the next step be for both the darknet and its users?
Hansa is No More Thanks to Law Enforcement Agencies
It is not entirely surprising to see two of the top darknet marketplaces be put out of business quickly. The disappearance of AlphaBay was more than just a coincidence, and it became clear that this had been the work of law enforcement agencies. Several people were arrested, including the alleged operator of the AlphaBay darknet market itself. That person later committed suicide in his cell.
Late last night, news broke that the Hansa darknet marketplace had been taken offline through a similar action. Considering that the Hansa team only recently announced they would ban Fentanyl sales altogether, this was a surprising development. Many people felt this would send a positive signal to other darknet marketplace operators. Getting rid of one of the most dangerous types of drugs in the world was a smart decision, but it did not prevent law enforcement officials from shutting down the marketplace. Many people will be disappointed that Hansa is gone.
Law enforcement agents were able to successfully infiltrate the Hansa marketplace. This joint venture by Europol and the U.S. Department of Justice has resulted in eliminating one of the largest threats that the world has seen to date. The two agencies were aided by the Dutch police, the FBI, and the DEA. This goes to show it takes a lot of coordination and effort to bring down these marketplaces successfully.
The most intriguing aspect of all this is how authorities were able to shut down Hansa before they focused their attention on AlphaBay. This might confuse some people, since Hansa was still online for days after AlphaBay went offline suddenly. That was merely a ruse, as the Hansa market had been infiltrated well before AlphaBay, thanks to the help of a Lithuanian hosting provider. Control of Hansa’s servers fell into the hands of agents back on June 20th, yet they purposefully kept the darknet marketplace online to collect more information.
This also means all of the users who frequented both AlphaBay and Hansa have been exposed to law enforcement agencies. It is believed that over 10,000 user records and profiles have been collected from both operations, which means that thousands of people can expect a visit from their local police officers. Whether or not any action will be taken against these users remains to be seen.
The darknet is undergoing some major changes which will affect users negatively. Law enforcement agencies need to crack down on darknet users, and not just the people who actively sell goods and services. Any marketplace which has gained a lot of traction is currently at risk of being infiltrated by law enforcement agents. It is unclear if additional operations can be expected in the future, but the war against the darknet is far from over.