Dream Market ‘Oxygod’ Busted for Alleged Distribution of Counterfeit Drugs

Dealer selling cocaine,ecstasy or other illegal drugs
The suspects behind Dream Market’s ‘Oxygod’ account have been arrested for dealing fake oxycodone pills on the dark web.

Three suspected drug dealers believed to have been running a lucrative venture on the dark web are finally in custody after months of investigation undertaken by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

Earlier this month, 20-year-old Duc Cao of Orange County, 21-year-old Wyatt Pasek of Santa Ana and 22-year-old Isaiah Suarez of New Port Beach were arrested under suspicion of operating a drug business on the very popular darknet market, Dream Market.

Around the same time the Office of the U.S. Attorney for Central District Of California announced the arrest, a criminal complaint was launched against the three suspects, accusing them of selling drugs on Dream Market under the username Oxygod.

The resulting joint operation between the DEA and the Costa Mesa Police Department lasted six months during which they gathered enough evidence to make a strong case against the three.

Suspects Believed to Have Distributed over 100,000 Fake Pills

Prior to the operation, Costa Mesa Police Department had come across a number of blue counterfeit pills with the markings “A 125” stamped on them.

According to a criminal police affidavit, it was later as they tested for fentanyl that the police discovered that the pills contained cyclopropyl fentanyl.

Costa Mesa police quickly narrowed their search for the source of the counterfeit pills to Pasek.

Opioid overdoses have been on the rise and the majority of these drugs come from darknet markets where fentanyl in all forms, including nasal spray, is being peddled to everyone with access to the dark web.

The Takedown & Arrests

Rather than pounce on the 21-year-old suspect immediately, police maintained close surveillance on Pasek and were rewarded with the location of one of the group’s pill labs in Newport Beach and the identities of the two other members.

Similarly, the authorities kept a close watch on Cao and Suarez as soon as they confirmed that the three were working together. This paid off as well.

In early March, a surveillance team picked up on Cao as he dropped off a number of packages at the post office. Police quickly obtained a warrant and managed to arrest several suspects in different states. A combined total of 1,400 counterfeit A 125 pills were recovered in operation. This was a momentous day for the investigators.

On the second day of April, Cao was spotted at Pasek’s house after which he traveled to the Newport Beach pill lab. After leaving the lab, he drove straight to a post office in Santa Ana and deposited 13 packages, similar to the first batch he was seen depositing in March.

Police obtained a court order to open the 13 packages. All of them contained the counterfeit blue A 125 pills and tested positive for fentanyl, according to the affidavit.

The following day, police made their move. They started by raiding Suarez’s apartment where they found not only fake oxycodone but also fake Xanax pills. It should be noted that Oxygod, a Dream Market vendor with a 4.54 rating after over 200 reviews, only dealt in fake oxycodone pills. The raid unearthed pill binders, an unknown sum of cash and over 13,000 fake oxycodone pills.

Mysteries Remain in the Case

Illegal drugs and money
Three suspected drug dealers believed to have been running a lucrative venture on the dark web are finally in custody after months of investigation undertaken by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

All three could be facing sentences of over 20 years each if convicted. However, this doesn’t seem to solve the case completely.

The last login date on Oxygod’s account was observed to be a day after the group was taken into custody. Furthermore, the issue of the fake Xanax pills remains unsolved, as does the mystery of the second research chemical used together with fentanyl to create the fake oxycodone pills.

It is believed that the trio sold an upwards of 100,000 fake oxycodone pills before the police caught up with them.

A Dream Market Forum Has Emerged on the Clearnet

Forum Chat Message Discuss Talk Topic Concept
DeepWeb Network has just launched. It’s a clearnet-based forum that’s modeled to serve Dream Market users.

Forums are avenues to discuss and swap experiences based on prevailing situations. They are necessary for the welfare of any community and this includes users of darknet markets.

So far, there are several popular forums used by darknet users for discussion. Some of the panels are created by the markets; others have been created by third parties whose sole interest is to improve the community. This is the function of Dread, a new dark web-based communication platform.

And recently, a new forum platform dubbed DeepWeb Network has been established to serve Dream Market users. The admins are clear that the site is not affiliated with the market itself.

It was built because Dream Market is currently the top darknet market today, and it is essential for market users to be aware of the happenings in their community.

Most posts are related to Dream Market in some way; others reflect general news concerning the dark web.

DeepWeb Network has attracted the attention of Dream Market admins, to the extent that the marketplace has publicly linked to it.

A message from a market admin named “Team Speedsteppers” encourages members to feel free to navigate to the site if the link to the official Dream Market forum cannot be accessed.

How DeepWeb Network Works

Communication, dialog, conversation on an online forum and internet chatting concept. Business man or social media consultant holding speech bubbles in futuristic modern abstract space.
Forums are avenues to discuss and swap experiences based on prevailing situations.

For those intending to use the forum, they can do so without having to register as a member. However, for exclusive access and to get alerts based on an individual’s preferences, a sign-up is required.

DeepWeb Network has several categories which can also be referred as sub-forums. Among them are announcements, general discussion, news and happenings, plus tutorials and guides. Depending on an individual’s interests, they can browse through the categories for useful discussions.

It’s worth noting that users should take into consideration specific factors before opening an account and among them is the username. When dealing with goods that can be illegal or legal on darknet sites, it is always advisable to use a pseudonym that does not resemble the user’s actual name.

DeepWeb Network Rules

For any given platform, there must be some guiding principles that govern how persons use a specific site, and this is same with DeepWeb Network.

Among the most common rules for those seeking to use the forum is that they should avoid publicizing too much personal details, no seeking direct clients, they should do adequate research, no blackmailing and doxxing, and last but not least, no selling accounts.

Dream Market Crashed, Affected Users’ Funds

technician at work with computer
Dream Market has confirmed a hardware malfunction in their escrow system, which is preventing some users from accessing their money.

The popular dark web trading site Dream Market has been reportedly having issues with its escrow account system, which is subsequently preventing some users from accessing and withdrawing their funds.

The issue is said to have resulted from a hardware malfunction.

Confirming this predicament, one user claimed he received the following message while attempting to complete a transaction: “This vendor isn’t allowed to finalize early.”

Surprisingly, he is not the only victim in this unfolding, since a host of other users has raised their concerns on Reddit citing similar difficulties.

What’s more, there are some saying that this issue is not new; in fact, it began a few months back.

They believe that this concern is not as much about early finalizing as is now the common perception—users have been attempting to withdraw money from their individual escrow accounts on time but Dream Market will still not allow them to do so.

Following these ongoing problems, the marketplace’s admins have restated by maintaining that there is a limit to the total funds which they can release to users.

Given the admins’ delayed response, some users are already questioning the real intentions of the dark web marketplace.

The story is similar for all the affected users. In truth, some claim that those running Dream Market might as well be typical scammers, even going further to caution potential customers from depositing their funds on the site.

The frustration is widespread indeed. One client, for instance, claimed that while he attempted to dispute an order to reacquire his funds, the dispute button—normally present—was unavailable in this instance.

This resulted in the auto-finalization of the order in as little as 14 days. In his final comments written on Reddit, he expressed his lack of understanding on exactly what was unfolding.

Word around town is that Dream Market is, in fact, orchestrating an exclusive exit scam. Speculation was particularly rampant after the site experienced an outage earlier, lasting only a few hours.

Cybersecurity Forces Soldier Arrests Hooded Hacker
Users feared that the market was seized by law

During this time, many users worried the market had been seized by law enforcement.

But this was before the escrow payment system was reported to be non-functional.

Now, according to the market’s subreddit homepage, users are leaning more toward believing Dream Market’s admins are orchestrating an exit scam.

And what’s even more shocking is that Dream has allegedly confirmed to some of the account holders that despite sanctioning their exclusive FE rights, all dealings over 0.6 BTC would need to get approval by admins.

For these users, it sounds rather unreasonable for the site’s support team to be involved in every private transaction done over 0.6 BTC, which translates to around $300.

Nonetheless, this appears to be a recurrent issue since a few months back when other account holders also raised a similar concern on Reddit.

These displeased holders are urging all account holders to immediately withdraw all their Bitcoin funds from their respective accounts. According to them, the faster they do it, the better and safer it is for them.

This hardware crash is apparently sparing no one, with both big and small vendors suffering the same predicament. Astoundingly, even holders with a 4.95/5 overall rating are also in the mix.

This, however, goes to dispel the idea that the only casualties are the low-rated accounts.

As is now commonly perceived, the notion that Dream is purportedly delaying the release of funds (escrow coins) to users in order to pull a typical exit scam seems to have settled well with many of the traders.

In the end, traders can only wait to see what unfolds.

But in reality, it would be difficult for Dream Market to pull off the ‘so-called’ exit scam, the reason being that they are not large enough to amass sufficient Bitcoin funds that will make it worthwhile.

Dream Market Now the Biggest Darknet Market after AlphaBay and Hansa Takedowns

Darknet market word in binary background
Darknet marketplaces inherit massive user base surges as pioneers AlphaBay and Hansa are laid to rest by the FBI.

Ever since two of the leading darknet marketplaces shut down, massive transitions have been taking place on the dark web.

As the demand for services and products being sold haven’t gone down, users are simply migrating to Dream Market—which happens to be the biggest darknet marketplace now.

Since late July, Dream Market and a few other counterparts have experienced a 28 percent surge in overall traffic.

Dream Market in particular now features more than 98,000 postings.

Here’s the gist of what’s been unfolding over the last few weeks.

What Exactly Happened?

Speculations were rife that the highly popular darknet market AlphaBay had been seized by law authorities when it disappeared in July, and to the disappointment of millions of dark web users, the rumors turned out to be true.

Soon after AlphaBay’s demise, Hansa, another leading marketplace, was taken down as well.

With transactions worth hundreds of thousands of dollars down the drain, life has been tough on the darknet.

With the United States Department of Justice terming this operation “one of the most important investigations of the year,” it’s safe to say that this is just the beginning.

Writing on the Wall

Ever since the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation took down Silk Road back in 2013, analysts around the globe had predicted a similar fate for the dark web’s remainder of marketplaces.

This summer, AlphaBay’s servers were confiscated in an operation led by authorities mainly in the U.S., the Netherlands, Canada, the United Kingdom and France.

Operations were also conducted in Thailand and Lithuania.

The suspected founder, Alexander Cazes, was arrested on July 5.

A week later, he was found dead in prison. Authorities state that Cazes committed suicide.

Effectively three days later, a number of Dutch authorities had complete control over Hansa.

If reports are to be believed, Hansa was secretly under the scanner for as long as a month after the initial capture.

Dream Market Emerges as New Leader

Born out of the ashes of Silk Road, like many of its other counterparts, Dream Market now features the highest number of listings—98,000 and counting.

It is also one of the oldest marketplaces on the darknet, with a loyal user base.

The fact that the website grew by 4,000 postings in just one week shows that darknet market users haven’t really stopped trading as such.

Of course, certain goods have taken a substantial hit and likely will not see the light of day until the dust settles.

Online forums had initially speculated that even Dream Market’s servers were compromised, but there seems to be no real evidence to support this.

Even though the overall consensus is to lay low, thousands of transactions are still going on at Dream Market.

The Current Scenario

tor webpage
vendors, have deserted Tor networks

Even though a swath of users, mostly vendors, have deserted Tor networks after this summer’s law enforcement takedowns, darknet marketplace sales are still going strong.

Tobacco and alcohol sales are still high, thanks to the 16 percent traffic surge that TradeRoute was blessed with.

There seems to be minimal fear despite the crackdowns, as Dream Market, TradeRoute and a number of other marketplaces have openly welcomed users who were displaced by AlphaBay’s shutdown.

This is primarily due to the fact that vendors always tend to use fake details to conduct their business, coupled with various IP proxies and VPN services.

So far, only the arms trade has taken a decent hit—a 37 percent drop off for RsClub Market was recorded.

But sales are bound to kick start again if the crackdowns come to an abrupt halt.

What Lies Ahead

A few networks report that a large chunk of usernames and passwords have been uncovered by the police and will be utilized for subsequent investigation.

The truth is, takedowns and arrests like these are inevitable in any illegal marketplace, be it online or offline.

What is interesting to note is that they hardly seem to have a decisive and fatal impact on the practice in question.

As of now, police in multiple countries seem to be in hot pursuit of several leads.

But, as to whether the trail runs cold or not, only time will tell.

Dream Market Users Encountered Log-In Issues

these factors made them believe the site was encountering problems
these factors made them believe the site was encountering problems

Some Dream Market users have been encountering difficulties with logging in on the darknet market, most of the time the site returned a “connection timed out” error upon trying to sign in.

For those who were facing these problems, it was double trouble since some of the orders they had placed ended up being unfulfilled.

However, others were more optimistic by saying that those warnings about the site were not new but had rather been there for almost a month.

While Dream Market itself has been almost 100% online for the past weeks, the main login link is still problematic for some people.

Using alternative links seems to be a better option for those trying to access the site.

error-siteApart from “connection timed out” error, other people who tried logging into Dream Market got a “password login disabled” message.

To solve this problem, users were advised to open up new accounts and contact support explaining their situation on the other account.

Another possible solution was trying one of the available mirrors to log in.

In general, the dark web site had a backup plan so that when their main URL was down; the alternative link was up and running every single time.

Those who took advantage of this factor never went through any of the troubles listed above.

Until there’s a solid proof that Dream Market is planning anything fishy, people should not worry about the darknet market planning an exit scam on them.

All these complaints are just unverified comments made mostly by those with fresh accounts on the marketplace.

Otherwise, no major warning has been issued so far and users should rest easy that the dark web site will continue running for a long period of time.

User Back, Denying Allegations That He Is A Scammer

reddit_log-100011890-large-6-300x201A dark web vendor on Dream Market has reappeared again after a short break and assured his customers that all is well; the seller apologized on Reddit for not being around and not communicating to those affected by his temporary absence. He admitted that all negative reviews posted recently by displeased buyers were completely justified; further mentioning they will receive a full refund for items bought while the dealer was away. Otherwise, they may get an extra amount in shipment if possible. This regardless of whether they decide to alter the negative comments or not.

He said that his absence was not intentional but rather due to unavoidable circumstances. Complications from an existing medical condition flared up prompting him to spend some considerable amount of time in the hospital. But even in poor health, the vendor had been thinking about his Dream Market customers whose orders were yet to be fulfilled. This condition might have resurfaced because of sheer carelessness and a previous accident.

After he had been released, he said he had gained full mental clarity to update everyone on business matters. While he expresses concern for not updating sooner, the dark web vendor stated that he doesn’t trust anyone with his Dream Market account and hence the wait. He hopes clients would be more understanding of the struggles and give him time to get his act back together. The vendor said he doesn’t always break promises and when an order is placed everything will be done to ensure clients’ needs are fulfilled. Further, describing himself as a firm believer of honest business practices, also that customers should be rest assured he’s on Dream Market to stay.

2272638a5f677ae744a7639d67dd2887 (2)Nevertheless, there are some people who’ve continued showing him continuous support despite the temporary absence, for such he’s grateful, including all those other loyal and courteous customers who understand his predicament. He said they are the reason why he will always try his best to continue trading on Dream Market for as long as possible. This appreciation extends to all future customers who may be interested in buying from him as well. Despite the comeback, he mentioned that he still needs to recover fully, though priority now is on those who didn’t receive their packages. They will be attended to immediately, plus listings and shop will also open soon, so customers don’t need to worry about placing orders.

Some people weren’t satisfied by his explanation, rather terming him a bad dealer by not having another trusted party handle his Dream Market dealings while away. Furthermore, though the trader admits that all negative reviews are welcome, he still hasn’t given steps on how such a situation can be averted again in the future. Incentives such as free handouts can help a lot in calming nerves, particularly for those who may feel aggrieved by the trader disappearing with their money. They say he needs to change his methods so that customers don’t feel screwed in the short term.

Dream Market: A Favorite Marketplace on the Dark Web

2272638a5f677ae744a7639d67dd2887 (2)Following the closure of Nucleus, most dark web users now prefer Dream Market since it has managed to withstand the test of time. Dealers are presently calling out for new buyers on Reddit hoping to attract refugees looking for a dependable darknet marketplace. Dream Market has been operational since 2013, making it the longest running online bazaar in existence. This means they’re doing something which other darknet sites have not mastered.

People choose Dream Market because the site provides a wide variety of products to buy from. Some of the items that can be found here include LSD, cocaine, weed, methamphetamine, credit cards, PayPal accounts, Netflix and much more. Additionally, there are Dream Market vendors who offer price discounts rates for customers, with some advertising on Reddit that buyers can get up to 30% off on certain products bought from them. The site also guarantees maximum anonymity for traders, which is probably the reason why they’ve managed to survive numerous takedowns by authorities.

For one to register with this marketplace, they need a referral link provided by an already established dealer or from this site. These security checks are there to ensure that everyone trading on the platform is not undercover agents working with the authorities. Many buyers prefer using Dream Market since identities are well protected, and people don’t have to worry as much about being tracked down by cops.

Additionally, there are numerous vendors available plus each one of them has a rating score which shows how good they are with the customers. You can also read comments below each dealer’s profile to know how well they treat their clients. Dream Market gives buyers the opportunity to gauge their dealers before making any purchase, thus minimizing the chances of falling prey to fraudsters.

Alphabay-and-Nucleus-Market (1)Apart from illicit items, legal goods are also available for sales such as weight loss supplements and anabolic products. Former Nucleus vendors have already registered with Dream Market, with some urging their Nucleus customers to follow their referral links and sign up on this marketplace to continue enjoying services as before. Furthermore, the inventory is always updated with new arrivals and rare items that cannot be found on other darknet sites.

Already vendors are competing on Reddit to attract new buyers for their products; this just shows how popular the marketplace is with even more potential of growing in the future. Each dealer is directing users to their onion referral link hoping they would click and register.

Many users consider Dream Market the No.1 market on darkweb since they haven’t been raided by feds, and admin always gives prompt responses to queries, unlike other bazaars where they may take time to reply. With numerous options to choose from, some people have been quick to point out that trading here is more like living a “Dream,”since the number of items available is really big.

Dark Web users try Dream Market to see if there’s something they would like. All their favorite drugs and everything else can be found here. Despite the site’s popularity, users should still beware of phishing links posted all over the Subreddit.

Nucleus Market Refugees Already On Dream Market

nucleus-official-logo_700x170Nucleus Market has recently been facing downtime with many users left stranded on what to do next. However, some of them have already switched over to Dream Market which is proving to be just as good, if not better. Traders who were previously refugees on Nucleus have started doing business here to their own advantage.

Dream Market was established in 2013 and has been competing with other darknet sites for clientele, though not quite as successful in gaining the number one spot compared to its rivals. But with Nucleus now facing challenges it seems like things are about to change and the site may soon become a major contender in the darknet business. If statistics are anything to go by then Dream Market has outlasted many other similar portals available today, with the only possible contender being AlphaBay.

While most Nucleus vendors have successfully turned their sights onto Dream Market, other are still waiting on baited breath hoping that the site will be back on in a short while so they can collect their coins. Some have even posted optimistically saying Nucleus is only undergoing minor upgrades, and would soon be back online to reclaim its top position. So far, Nucleus admin has not yet released any statement concerning these particular developments, which is odd since in the past they used to give prompt responses immediately an emergency occurs.

2272638a5f677ae744a7639d67dd2887Despite their generally positive online presence, Dream Market suffered a DDoS attack sometime last year resulting in major downtime. A few users speculate that is probably what’s happening to Nucleus right now. Particularly considering a similar attack had also affected them at the time Dream Market was down. Nevertheless, some spammers have taken advantage of people’s desperation to find a new darknet site and are sending infected links to unsuspecting users. This has developed a bad rep for Dream Market with some people saying that the spamming needs to stop, or else they won’t register with it but instead find another portal not marred by random spam messages and requests.

There are many different referral links that have been posted on darkweb forums, raising suspicion on their authenticity as well as safety standards. Based on their unregulated nature it’s even possible that these links have not been approved by Dream Market itself. The spam posts also make the site look less professional and more desperate to gain Nucleus refugees, further dwindling its ratings amongst darkweb users. Dream Market has not posted anything about this issue, making some people doubt their dedication towards acting as a Nucleus alternative.

This portal is generally an escrow marketplace supporting the Tor network. It supports the free market, allowingpeople to access products and services that are not readily available in different countries. It offers licit and illicit listings such as drugs and other related items. The site forbids weapons of mass destruction, poisons, and child pornography among others. As with most other darkweb marketplaces, bitcoin is the preferred currency of choice here when conducting transactions.

The Dangers In The Dark Web

In its annual research report published last month, Flashpoint, a global leader in Deep and Dark Web intelligence, pointed out the increasing complexities of the illicit communities as well as how cybercrime became more industrialized in the darknet markets in the year that just passed. The report details the top high-risk threats for organizations and their assets and is based on the growing cybercrime trends in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The CEO of Flashpoint, Josh Lefkowitz, touched upon the maturing of the French and Chinese illicit communities in the darknet markets. The company believes that operational and strategic intelligence gained from the darknet markets will help to reduce the costs of the fraud or data loss that may occur, reduce the damage of reputation and also provide an insight into the working of the criminal activities that would affect an organization, its employees, clients and partners.

Darknet Markets – Top Threats They Pose

The range of criminal activities that take place in the darknet markets includes theft of intellectual property, financial fraud, hacking, and terrorism. Intelligence and timely information about such activities will help organizations to be prepared before they are planned and executed. Corporate companies need to be well informed about these darknet markets and criminal innovations to combat and overcome any potential threats. The Flashpoint report serves to monitor such activities of the darknet markets that are almost invisible to the others. The following top threats have been identified by Flashpoint in the year 2015:

Attack-Darknet-Markets-e1449648095926

Threat #1: Free entry for any cybercriminal

Anyone can choose to enter the darknet markets as a cybercriminal. There is no bar and this has been made largely possible with the expanding malware toolsets now available for the newbie.

Threat #2: Drugs are available in plenty

It is estimated that over 50 percent of the darknet markets that function using Tor offer narcotics for sale. These are easily accessible and are sure to incite interest among the ones that are ready to enter the world of drugs and cybercrime.

Threat #3: No legislature in place for use of hidden services

There is no clear legislation in place as regards the use and governance of hidden service. As long as this does not change, cybercriminals will effectively use Tor and other hidden services for conduct of criminal and illicit activities.

Threat #4: Cybercrime – Claim to fame

Though it is a fact that the financially and politically motivated are still a threat to a system (governments, organizations and individuals) that is against their agenda, it has been pointed out in the report that the more dangerous among all of these are cybercriminals motivated by chaos and fame. Their actions are more challenging and they are harder to control.

Threat #5: Seamless terrorism and cybercrime

The spread of cybercrime is inevitable and is, of course, hastened by the facilities provided by hidden services. The year 2015 saw the globalization of crime. With Chinese cybercriminals taking business to Russian forums, it is evident that cybercrime has matured, is internationalized and is growing at an alarming rate. Jihadists have managed to make the most out of what the darknet markets have to offer, thanks to their new crop of young and tech savvy recruits. They have offered greater support to ISIS and extended the global reach of the terrorist group.

fighting-europes-capital-cyber-crime

About Flashpoint

Flashpoint provides relevant tools, reports, studies and data about the Deep and Dark Web. These are aimed at providing access to organizational, tactical and strategic intelligence to experts. The data is curated by subject-matter experts and presented using a state-of-the art platform. Flashpoint’s products are designed to throw light on the actors, their behaviors and relationships that exist in the deep and dark web. Many organizations have come to realize the potential of this intelligence report and the value of staying ahead of emerging cyber threats. Many government departments and Fortune 500 companies use Flashpoint data, tools and reports to reduce the costs of financial fraud, data loss and reputational damage that are caused to them. Flashpoint is backed by companies such as Bloomberg Beta, Greycroft Partners, Cisco Investments, TechOperators, and K2 Intelligence.

“Underground Economy Forums” Seized By European Authorities

Ever since the arrest of Ross Ulbricht, the creator as well as operator of the illegal darknet market Silk Road, and the subsequent shutdown of the website, the anonymity provided by the Tor network to darknet markets has been the subject of many discussions and debates. A lot has also been discussed about how dark web users do not get the anonymity they want. This has been made clear once again by the law enforcement authorities in the wake of a recent international investigation by European authorities that helped to pull down five darknet markets. These online black marketplaces have been purportedly referred to by the law enforcement agencies as “Underground Economy Forums.”

Underground Economy Forums

Investigation and Arrests in the Darknet Markets

The Underground Economy Forums constitute darknet markets or online black markets that sell or conduct transactions involving drugs, dangerous weapons, stolen credit card details, and fake identifications, among many others. Other websites related to the cyber world include illegal streaming, malware, and DDoS attacks. The recent investigations targeted operators of such services. During the investigations, it was also found out by the authorities that these darknet markets made use of bitcoins for executing their transactions.

Together with different arms of law enforcement agencies at international levels, the Center of Cybercrime Control and the Frankfurt Prosecutor General’s Office conducted raids on five operators of the Underground Economy websites. It is suspected that a 27-year-old Bosnian is the main operator of as many as three of these websites. He is believed to have been operating the sites since the year 2012. In addition to this, two Germans have also been arrested in this connection. The Germans aged 22 and 27 were also caught, and one is suspected to have been playing in the darknet markets for three years. The searches yielded 250,000 euros worth of drugs. A Syrian national has also been arrested on charges of synthesizing the amphetamines range of drugs. Further, several other searches resulted in the apprehension of three more German nationals, one of whom was arrested in Netherlands. Of these, a 21-year-old has been accused of running an illegal data streaming platform. The German arrested in Netherlands has been charged with dealing dangerous drugs such as amphetamine, cocaine and ecstasy through the online platforms.

In the wake of these investigations and arrests, the law enforcement agencies have been sending firm messages to young Internet users that it is easy for them to track down darknet markets and their perpetrators and prosecute them as per the existing laws. This is being done with the hope of keeping the youngsters away from their possible tryst with these darknet markets.

However, others see the shutdown of the Silk Road as responsible for facilitating the evolution of other darknet markets. Even when Silk Road is no longer present, other online black markets have sprung up in its place and continued to sell things that were banned in Silk Road. This includes guns as well as stolen data. Traders sell zero-day exploits to those who are ready to pay exorbitant amounts of money for them. These anonymous marketplaces continue to hog the limelight and are at the center of many controversies and investigations.

shutdown of the Silk Road

According to Giulio Prisco of CCN.LA, legal crackdown on the darknet markets is not the ultimate solution. This action would only push the activity into deeper morass and into the hands of other criminals. The shutdown of the more-principled operators may throw the doors open to the less-principled ones who would know only too well how to trick the law. Moreover, the darknet markets would become more open to selling even more dangerous things than just drugs.

In this context it is interesting to note that the dark web has also allowed a host of useful applications to thrive on the dark web that the IETF and IANA assigned a formal .onion domain last year.