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Dark Web marketplaces AlphaBay and Hansa shut down

(Image credit: Image Credit: Welcomia / Shutterstock)

Two of the biggest marketplaces on the 'dark web' have been seized and shut down in a major police operation.

AlphaBay and Hamsa provided a location for the illegal trade of entities such as guns, drugs, stolen data or malware, with the marketplace blamed for several deaths of shoppers who overdosed on illegal drugs sold through the site.

Europol said there were more than 250,000 listings for illegal drugs and other toxic chemicals on AlphaBay, including listings for heroin and fentanyl. Hansa was seized and monitored for an entire month, before authorities decided to shut it down, and Europol believes the information gathered will lead to hundreds of new investigations in Europe.

"The capability of drug traffickers and other serious criminals around the world has taken a serious hit today," said Europol's executive director Rob Wainwright, with FBI director Andrew McCabe calling the move a 'landmark operation'.

"We know of several Americans who were killed by drugs on AlphaBay," said US Attorney General Jeff Sessions. "One victim was just 18 years old when in February she overdosed on a powerful synthetic opioid which she had bought on AlphaBay."

The FBI and the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) led the investigation, together with the Dutch National Police, and also aided by UK, French, and Lithuanian police forces.

Image Credit: Welcomia / Shutterstock