When police thought they beat the darknet marketplaces but they didn't

Markets

Darknet is continuing it's business as usual.



Darknet is having a quick restart continuing it's business as usual.

In May, German police shut down Wall Street Market. A few weeks before, Dream – the longest running and largest market – was closed under mysterious circumstances.

Police also took out a vital part of the dark web's infrastructure, the information and review site Deepdotweb.com.

FBI special agent Maggie Blanton, who leads the bureau's Hi-Tech Organised Crime Unit, told journalists in May: "We think [seizing DDW is] going to have a huge impact. We viewed DeepDotWeb as a gateway to the dark web." It did indeed have an impact, but only for a few weeks. A new site, dark.fail, listing trustworthy URLS for market services, is now online, hosted on the Tor network as a hidden service, making it harder to identify the owners.

But the dark web is nothing if not resilient. Since the demise of Wall Street and Dream, two new markets, Empire and Nightmare – which both opened over a year ago – have grown rapidly as users have migrated over from closed sites. Today, Empire has over 28,000 drug listings and Nightmare has over 60,000. In the summer of 2017, Dream market, the second-biggest at that time, had just 48,000 deals.

Customers reported little break in service after the closures. One Bristol-based darknet customer told me how he reacted when Dream and WSM closed. "I found URLs for Empire and Nightmare in then minutes, and then I found my usual vendor and scored ten tabs of LSD and 7g of MDMA ready for Glastonbury."

Dread is as integral to the dark web infrastructure as Deepdotweb was, again proving that the police haven't exactly won the war.

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