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Justice Department Shuts Dark Web Drug Directory, Arrests Alleged Owners

In what is being called “the single most significant law enforcement disruption of the darknet to date” by U.S. Attorney Scott Brady, the Justice Department has shut down a major directory of dark web drug marketplaces and arrested the alleged owners. NBC News reports: DeepDotWeb was a regular searchable website that provided a directory with direct access to a host of darknet marketplaces selling illegal narcotics including fentanyl, cocaine, heroin and meth. The website also provided access to marketplaces for firearms, including assault rifles, and for malicious software and hacking tools. The alleged owners, Tal Prihar, 37, and Michael Phan, 34, both from Israel, were arrested Monday, Prihar in France and Phan in Israel, where they remain in custody. They each face a single count of money laundering conspiracy in the U.S. Phan also faces charges in Israel.

Prihar and Phan allegedly received kickback payments through bitcoin when someone purchased an item on the darknet sites found through the directory, earning more than $15 million in fees since October 2013, according to prosecutors. These “referral bonuses” allegedly came from darknet marketplaces including AlphaBay Market, Agora Market, Abraxas Market, Dream Market, Valhalla Market, Hansa Market, TradeRoute Market, Dr. D’s, Wall Street Market and Tochka Market. The closing of a directory like DeepDotWeb is significant, Brady said, because it should stifle hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal purchases.


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