Three people suspected of managing the world’s second-largest dark web market have been arrested in Germany, the Hesse Attorney General’s Office said on Friday.
The suspects are men aged between 22 and 31, arrested at the end of April in western Germany. They are suspected of running the “Wall Street Market”, a platform for the sale of illegal drugs, counterfeit documents, personal data and malicious software. The market had more than 63,000 sales offers, around 5,400 sellers and more than 1 million customer accounts.
Purchases were paid for using virtual currencies bitcoin and monero. The three alleged managers of Wall Street Market are suspected of having received commissions between 2 and 6 percent on each sale.
Their arrest was carried out following joint investigations by the German, US and Dutch law enforcement agencies with the support of the European police agency Europol.
During the searches of the suspects’ apartments, more than 550,000 euros in cash as well as large sums of cryptocurrency were seized. Cars and computer equipment were also recovered, along with a weapon. In the United States, raids led to the arrest of two suspected drug sellers and the seizure of assets worth several million euros.
Shortly before they were apprehended by German authorities end of April, the three conducted an “exit scam” in which they stole all the money held in escrow and in user accounts on the site, an amount of nearly US$11 million, according to investigators.
The Wall Street Market remained one of the main hubs of illicit traffic on the dark web following the closure of Silkktie, also known as the Valhalla Marketplace, by Finnish and French police earlier this year.
In a statement, Europol Executive Director Catherine De Bolle said: “These two investigations show the importance of law enforcement cooperation at an international level and demonstrate that illegal activity on the dark web is not as anonymous as criminals may think.”