Friday, July 21, 2017

Alexandre Cazes, mastermind of darknet site found dead in Thai custody

25-year-old Canadian Alexandre Cazes, accused of masterminding the world's leading "darknet" internet marketplace has hanged himself in his jail cell. Thai police say he died in their custody July 12, just before a scheduled court hearing. Cazes created AlphaBay, an online marketplace that traded in illegal drugs, firearms and counterfeit goods. Cazes amassed a fortune of $23 million with the creation of AlphaBay in 2014. The site, which Europol estimates did $1 billion in business, went offline July 5 after Cazes's arrest in Thailand.
AlphaBay's users had flocked to another darknet site Hansa, which is largely based in the Netherlands.

Cyberpolice quietly seized Hansa for a month to amass intelligence on illicit drug merchants and buyers.

One of the properties of Alexandre Cazes in Bangkok
More than two-thirds of the quarter million listings on the two sites were for illegal drugs. Other illegal wares for sale included weapons, counterfeit and stolen identification and malware. Services even included hitmen for hire.

Dutch police began running the Hansa site on June 20th and amassed some 10,000 IP addresses for Hansa buyers outside Holland. Online rumors about other dark net drug marketplaces possibly being compromised were already spreading. Dark net websites have thrived since the 2011 appearance of the Silk Road, which was taken down two years later.