German authorities shut down a darknet marketplace with 180,000 users

Düsseldorf police announced the dismantling of Crimemarket, a large German-language platform for trading illegal substances that was used by more than 180,000 people. It is also reported that six suspects were arrested, one of whom was an operator of a closed marketplace.

Crimemarket was the largest underground marketplace in the country. It sold illegal drugs, drugs, hacking services, and also posted textbooks and guides on committing various crimes.

German authorities shut down a darknet marketplace with 180,000 users

Law enforcement officials say the closure of Crimemarket was the result of years of investigations and a series of searches, during which evidence was obtained that allowed them to identify the platform’s operators and some of its users.

As part of this operation, on the evening of February 29, 2024, 102 search warrants were simultaneously issued throughout the country. In a press release, authorities said they were focusing on the arrests of three people, including a 23-year-old man considered the main suspect.

“The police seized a lot of evidence, in particular, mobile phones, various IT devices and storage media. In 21 cases, police seized drugs, including a kilogram of marijuana and ecstasy tablets. In total, almost 600,000 euros in cash and movable property were seized,” police say.

As Bleeping Computer notes, outages in Crimemarket began early last week, when many users complained of being unable to log in, although the site remained online. As a result, rumors appeared that the interruptions in work could be associated with the closure of the ChipMixer service, which the marketplace used to launder payments. Thus, some claimed that studying the ChipMixer infrastructure seized by the authorities helped reveal the identity of the Crimemarket administrator, known under the nickname Evolution.

Journalists also discovered that the forum where Crimemarket sellers until recently communicated with buyers remained active until the end of last week, and new messages appeared on it. Apparently, the police allowed attackers to continue using the platform after it was taken over in order to collect identification information, logins, etc.

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