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Drug and weapon online marketplace shut down by Dutch Police

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by Jamie Hinks
, 12 Feb 2014News
Drug and weapon online marketplace shut down by Dutch Police

Dutch law enforcement authorities have shut down an online marketplace that was profiting from the sale of illegal drugs as well as weapons and other illicit services.

Related: Bitcoin exchange bosses charged over shady Silk Road dealings

Utopia, which only launched last week, was operating on The Onion Router [Tor] that operates on what is often referred to as the “dark net” and enables sites to exist beyond the reach of the authorities.

Visitors to the site were greeted with a message from the Dutch National Police service that stated “this hidden service has been seized by the Dutch National Police” before a statement added that more information regarding the closure will be released later on this week.

Upon its launch last week, Utopia dubbed itself as “a bright star in the shadows of the darknet” and marketed goods from various third party sellers across a range of categories, according to the BBC.

Some of the categories on the site were drugs including cocaine and steroids, chemicals, services such as hacking and gambling, weapons including firearms and ammunition, and counterfeits such as money and clothes.

During its first few hours online there were already over 1,200 listings with shipping available worldwide and the item description often showing a picture of the item as well as prices in Euros, with purchases able to be made using Bitcoins.

Upon its closure the number of items listed had mushroomed to some 13,000 and it’s the second time that Dutch authorities have successfully targeted a site based on the Tor service with a child sex abuse site shut down back in 2011 and the owner Robert Mikelsons jailed for 18 years as a result.

Utopia is the second high profile dark web marketplace to be shut down after US authorities finally caught up with Silk Road owner Ross William Ulbricht in September 2013.

Related: Silk Road and owner Ulbricht forfeit combined $158m Bitcoin fortune

Ulbricht stands accused of drug trafficking, computer hacking and money laundering in relation to the site as well as allegations that the site was a criminal enterprise and solicited six murders-for-hire.

Image Credit: Flickr (freefotouk)

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