Two of the largest online black-market sites have been shuttered in a law enforcement crackdown, but drug dealers have moved in a hurry to a third “dark net” emporium, where listings of fentanyl and heroin have already spiked, reports NBC News. The newfound popularity of DreamMarket highlights the whack-a-mole challenges of policing drugs sold online even as government officials touted the the death of the other two sites, AlphaBay and Hansa.
The U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday that AlphaBay — described as a major source of fentanyl and heroin that has been linked to overdose deaths — had been seized and closed down. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called it “likely one of the most important criminal investigations of the year.” The so-called dark net is a part of the Internet that can only be accessed by specialized software or hardware and contains clandestine websites not found through normal search engines. Alphabay and Hansa advertised drugs, chemicals, counterfeit documents, weapon and computer malware among many other items and services, cloaking users in anonymity. Authorities said AlphaBay alone was responsible for at least a billion dollars worth of commerce, using bitcoin and other crypto-currencies. But as soon as authorities shut down AlphaBay, sellers began migrating to other sites, according to Kela Targeted Cyber Intelligence, a Tel Aviv company that monitors the dark net.