Federal law enforcement officials said Friday they have taken action against 400 websites accused of selling illegal goods and services on an online black market.
The websites, which all have .onion addresses, were hidden on the Tor network, a part of Internet common browsers can't reach that allows users to host websites anonymously.
The Justice Department’s Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York worked with law enforcement agencies from 16 European nations to seize the website addresses and computer servers hosting the sites on Thursday.
The sting, which is the largest action taken against such sites to date, comes one day after the FBI shutdown the Silk Road 2 marketplace and arrested alleged operator Blake Benthall, also known as Defcon. The dark market sites seized include Hydra, Cloud 9, Pandora, Blue Sky, Executive Outcomes, Fake Real Plastic, Fake ID, Fast Cash and Super Notes Counter.
“As illegal activity online becomes more prevalent, criminals can no longer expect that they can hide in the shadows of the ‘dark web,’” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara , of the Southern of New York. “We shut down the original Silk Road website and now we have shut down its replacement, as well as multiple other ‘dark market’ sites allegedly offering all manner of illicit goods and services, from firearms to computer hacking.
Illegal narcotics, stolen credit card data, counterfeit currency and fake passports were also on sale, authorities said, and sites were accepting bitcoins and other digital currency as payment.