Government of the USA imposes economic sanctions on Russia's Hydra Darknet Market

 Government of the USA imposes economic sanctions on Russia's Hydra Darknet Market

 To coincide with German law enforcement officials shutting down the largest dark web marketplace in a coordinated operation with US officials and sanctioning Hydra the same day, the Treasury Department of the United States sanctioned Hydra on February 1.

"International efforts to disrupt proliferation of malicious cybercrime services, dangerous drugs, and other illegal offerings available through the Russia-based site," Treasury Department said in a statement.

Sanctions were accompanied by a list of more than 100 virtual currency addresses that have been linked to the entity's illicit transactions.

Following the seizure of 543 bitcoins worth $25.3 million by Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office, the European Union has imposed sanctions on the website.

Hydra was a Russian-language darknet platform accessible via the Tor network since at least November 2015, facilitating the trafficking of illegal goods and services, including illegal drugs, stolen financial information, fraudulent identification documents, and money laundering and mixing services.

The Treasury Department also sanctioned the virtual currency exchange Garantex, making it the third crypto platform to be blocked by the United States after SUEX and CHATEX.

Analysis of known Garantex transactions shows that more than $100 million is associated with illicit actors and darknet markets, including nearly $6 million from the Russian RaaS gang Conti and also approximately $2.6 million from Hydra," the Treasury Department said.

Government of the USA imposes economic sanctions on Russia's Hydra Darknet Market

He is accused of running a company called Promservice Ltd., also known as Hosting Company Full Drive, All-Wheel Drive, and, in order to take control of the server. Furthermore, it is alleged that he conspired with other marketplace operators by providing the infrastructure backbone that allowed its success in a "competitive darknet market environment."

Hydro accounted for an estimated 80% of darknet market cryptocurrency transactions in 2021, and the marketplace has received $5.2 billion in cryptocurrency since 2015," the DoJ said.

Government of the USA imposes economic sanctions on Russia's Hydra Darknet Market

Additionally, the DoJ announced charges against Russian national Dmitry Olegovich Pavlov, 30, in connection with the operation of Hydra's servers, accusing him of aiding in the distribution of narcotics and participating in money laundering. Both actions were announced at the same time.

Hydra is also alleged to have served as a distribution channel for forged passports and driver's licenses, as well as hacking tools and services that allowed criminals to gain illegal access to online accounts.

For every transaction on Hydra, the website's administrators charged a fee. Additionally, Hydra offered users the option to withdraw their bitcoins and mix them with other cryptocurrencies in order to hide their transactions.

Cybercriminals who believe they can operate freely have been given a stern warning by Homeland Security Investigations Miami Special Agent in Charge Anthony Salisbury that they can no longer do so after Hydra Market was shut down, which was the largest provider of illicit goods and services on the dark web.

"HSI will continue to work with our U.S. and international law enforcement partners to target these transnational criminal organizations who attempt to manipulate the anonymity of the dark web to spread their poison around the world," Salisbury said.

Threat actors who rely on Hydra's services on the dark web have speculated about the future of the marketplace and pointed out that authorities or other malicious parties could "set up fake versions of Hydra in order to track down former users."

Despite this, Hydra's operators claim that the market is undergoing "technical works" and have refused to acknowledge its closure, according to cybersecurity company Flashpoint.


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