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Hail Hydra no more: the world's largest dark web marketplace has officially been shut down.
For those who clearly haven't spent enough time on YouTube, the dark web is an area of the internet only accessible by specialised web browsers, primarily used for keeping online activity private.
The important thing to remember is that it's not illegal to access it, and the anonymity it offers actually has some benefits.
However, its drawbacks are obvious: people use it to buy drugs, weapons and conduct other criminal activities.
Hydra was considered to be the world’s largest and longest-running darknet market, allowing its users in mainly Russian-speaking countries access to illicit goods and services, such as illegal drugs, stolen financial information, fraudulent identification documents, and money laundering and mixing services.
All transactions on Hydra were conducted in cryptocurrency, with its operators charging a commission for every purchase on the marketplace.
Last year, Hydra accounted for around 80 percent of all darknet market-related cryptocurrency transactions. It also received an estimated $5.2 billion (£4bn) in cryptocurrency since 2015.
After a tip-off indicated its web servers were hosted in Germany, Hydra's servers and cryptocurrency wallets were seized this week by the German Federal Criminal Police, working with US law enforcement.
If you try to access Hydra now, you'll be welcomed with a notice explaining that the 'platform and the criminal content have been seized... in the course of an international coordinated law enforcement operation'.
In a press release, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said: "Together with our German law enforcement partners, we have seized the infrastructure of the world’s largest darknet market, but our work is far from over.
"We will continue to work alongside our international and interagency partners to disrupt and dismantle darknet markets, and to hold those who commit their crimes on the dark web accountable for their acts."
Hydra offered access to the likes of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, and other opioids, as well as false identification documents like passports and driving licences and hacking services for an array of different scenarios.
As part of its shutdown, criminal charges have also been brought against Dmitry Olegovich Pavlov, 30, for conspiracy to distribute narcotics and conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with his operation and administration of the servers used to run Hydra.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco added: "Our message should be clear: we will continue to go after darknet markets and those who exploit them.
"Together with our partners in Germany and around the world, we will continue our work to disrupt the ecosystem that allows these criminal actors to operate."
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Featured Image Credit: Alamy
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