Australian accused of running world's biggest darknet marketplace arrested

A German-led police sting has taken down the “world’s largest” darknet marketplace. —AFP  File

The man, known only as Julian K, is the alleged operator of DarkMarket and has been detained by German investigators. A 34-year-old Australian national who was suspected to be the DarkMarket operator was arrested while near the German-Danish border.

More that 20 servers were seized in Moldova and Ukraine.

Authorities say drugs, counterfeit money, stolen credit card data, anonymous SIM cards and malware were all traded on the site, which had a half a million users and transacted business in cryptocurrencies equivalent to a value of €140 million ($170 million).

Prosecutors noted that DarkMarket had nearly 500,000 users and over 2,400 vendors at the time of the shutdown.

Law Enforcement knowing figures at that detail on the same day of the arrest indicates they may have analyzed the servers long before the arrest, possibly hacked the market in some way, or had an undercover staff member able to see counts in DarkMarket's support interface.


"Investigators expect to use the data saved there to launch new probes against the moderators, sellers and buyers of the marketplace", prosecutors said.

The report further alleged that a total of 320,000 transactions took place on the illegal market place resulting in more than 4650 bitcoin and 12,8000 Monero were exchanged between the customers and the platform.

The American FBI, DEA narcotics law enforcement division and IRS tax authority took part in the probe along with police from Australia, Britain, Denmark, Switzerland, Ukraine and Moldova. He was placed in pre-trial detention.

"A shared commitment across the law enforcement community worldwide and a coordinated approach by law enforcement agencies have once again proved their effectiveness", Europol said in a statement about this week's operation.

They said the investigation around DarkMarket originated after the discovery of a data processing centre run by organised criminals in a 5,000sqm former North Atlantic Treaty Organisation bunker in south-west Germany.

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