US Treasury Sanctioned Hydra Market

US Treasury Sanctioned Hydra Market

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Hydra, the world’s largest darkweb marketplace.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Hydra and the virtual currency exchange Garantex.

“The global threat of cybercrime and ransomware that originates in Russia, and the ability of criminal leaders to operate there with impunity, is deeply concerning to the United States,” said Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen. “Our actions send a message today to criminals that you cannot hide on the darknet or their forums, and you cannot hide in Russia or anywhere else in the world. In coordination with allies and partners, like Germany and Estonia, we will continue to disrupt these networks.”

A picture of The banner uploaded by German police after the seizure of Hydra's servers in Germany.

The banner uploaded by German police after the seizure of Hydra's servers in Germany.

Alongside the sanctions, the Department of Justice indicted Dmitry Olegovich Pavlov for conspiracy to distribute narcotics and conspiracy to launder money “in connection with his operation and administration of the servers used to run Hydra.” According to the U.S. government, Pavlov is living in Russia, where he is safe from Yellen and the demands of the U.S. government. If he is living in the Ukraine, like the alleged administrators of Hydra, Yellen could be correct about his inability to hide.

“Starting in or about November 2015, Pavlov is alleged to have operated a company, Promservice Ltd., also known as All Wheel Drive and 4x4host.ru, that administered Hydra’s servers (Promservice). During that time, Pavlov, through his company Promservice, administered Hydra’s servers, which allowed the market to operate as a platform used by thousands of drug dealers and other unlawful vendors to distribute large quantities of illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services to thousands of buyers, and to launder billions of dollars derived from these unlawful transactions.”

“As an active administrator in hosting Hydra’s servers, Pavlov allegedly conspired with the other operators of Hydra to further the site’s success by providing the critical infrastructure that allowed Hydra to operate and thrive in a competitive darknet market environment. In doing so, Pavlov is alleged to have facilitated Hydra’s activities and allowed Hydra to reap commissions worth millions of dollars generated from the illicit sales conducted through the site.”

On Rutor, someone claiming to be Hellgirl is giving the usual “we will return” message. The message is signed but I do not have Hellgirl’s original PGP key saved. I am skeptical that it is the real Hellgirl. However, feds seized Hydra once before in 2014

Some Russian vendors were directing customers to new storefronts on Mega. Mega has been intermittently online while apparently struggling to deal with the massive influx of users. Legal has been under a denial of service attack for several days. There is also a push to move customers to Telegram where many vendors have bots.