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US, Germany Sanction Russian Darknet Marketplace Hydra, Seize Bitcoins

The authorities in the United States and Germany have imposed sanctions on Russia-based Hydra Market (Hydra), which has been labeled as the world’s largest and most prominent darknet market.

The annual revenue of the darknet market touched $1.3 billion in 2020 from under $10 million in 2016. Around 17 million customers and 19,000 seller accounts were registered on the darknet marketplace.

The sanctions by the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) came on the same day the German authorities seized $25 million worth of Bitcoin and shut down the darknet market.

The authorities with their action want to disrupt the proliferation of malicious cybercrime services, dangerous drugs and other illegal offerings through the Russian darknet platform.

Linked Bitcoin Addresses

In addition to the sanctions on the darknet marketplace, the US Treasury identified more than 100 virtual currency addresses associated with the operations of Hydra. These addresses were used to conduct illicit transactions.

Additionally, OFAC highlighted that roughly 86 percent of the illicit Bitcoin transactions received directly by Russian crypto exchanges in 2019 came from Hydra. Further, around $8 million in ransomware proceeds were transferred through Hydra’s virtual currency accounts.

“The global threat of cybercrime and ransomware that originates in Russia, and the ability of criminal leaders to operate there with impunity, is deeply concerning to the United States,” said the Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen.

“Our actions send a message today to criminals that you cannot hide on the darknet or their forums, and you cannot hide in Russia or anywhere else in the world.”

In the US, the sanctions came as a collaborative effort of the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations. Furthermore, they coordinated with the authorities in Germany and Estonia.

The authorities in the United States and Germany have imposed sanctions on Russia-based Hydra Market (Hydra), which has been labeled as the world’s largest and most prominent darknet market.

The annual revenue of the darknet market touched $1.3 billion in 2020 from under $10 million in 2016. Around 17 million customers and 19,000 seller accounts were registered on the darknet marketplace.

The sanctions by the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) came on the same day the German authorities seized $25 million worth of Bitcoin and shut down the darknet market.

The authorities with their action want to disrupt the proliferation of malicious cybercrime services, dangerous drugs and other illegal offerings through the Russian darknet platform.

Linked Bitcoin Addresses

In addition to the sanctions on the darknet marketplace, the US Treasury identified more than 100 virtual currency addresses associated with the operations of Hydra. These addresses were used to conduct illicit transactions.

Additionally, OFAC highlighted that roughly 86 percent of the illicit Bitcoin transactions received directly by Russian crypto exchanges in 2019 came from Hydra. Further, around $8 million in ransomware proceeds were transferred through Hydra’s virtual currency accounts.

“The global threat of cybercrime and ransomware that originates in Russia, and the ability of criminal leaders to operate there with impunity, is deeply concerning to the United States,” said the Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen.

“Our actions send a message today to criminals that you cannot hide on the darknet or their forums, and you cannot hide in Russia or anywhere else in the world.”

In the US, the sanctions came as a collaborative effort of the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations. Furthermore, they coordinated with the authorities in Germany and Estonia.


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