Two Israeli citizens have been apprehended by law enforcement based on suspicions that they developed and ran a darknet marketplace for dealing illegal goods.
The Israeli police announced via Twitter that it has collaborated with the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to arrest two locals who they believe managed the dark web marketplace, which used bitcoin to facilitate trades.
Local reports identified the marketplace in question as Deep Dot Web. The site is reported to be a source of various illicit materials including, but not limited to, illegal drugs, ammunition and credit card information. The site’s managers skimmed profit off the top of each of the site’s transactions, and it even featured an “affiliated marketing program” which allowed admins to make millions in dollars in referrals.
“The 2 suspects arrested in Israel will be brought before a judge for a hearing regarding their potential detention extension,” a tweet reads.
Darknet sites have been a security threat to technologically advanced countries in recent years, as they allow criminals to circumvent conventional Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws and government surveillance.
The majority of the sites are accessible with the use of Tor, an anonymous, privacy-focused browser. The use of digital assets as a means of remuneration and payment by darknet operators has also been a bone of contention in the global push for cryptocurrencies’ mainstream acceptance.
However, while activities on the dark web have continued to grow, law enforcement officials have recorded some big wins in their war against them.
Last week, Wall Street Market, one of the largest darknet sites in the world, was successfully dismantled, after collaborative efforts from Europol and other international law enforcement agencies based in the United States, Germany, Romania and the Netherlands.
Europol reported that the site had over 1.15 million user accounts, while about 5,400 sellers had placed up to 63,000 orders. The watchdog noted that at the time of its closure, Wall Street Market was the second-largest site on the dark web.
In addition to the site’s shutdown, German authorities were said to have arrested three of the site’s operators, while some of its most popular drug suppliers were also apprehended in the United States.
Efforts to reach Deep Dot Web over encrypted chat were unsuccessful.
A spokesperson for the Justice Department did not have comment, while the FBI declined to comment. A spokesperson for the Israeli consulate in New York did not respond to a request for comment.
Times of Israel reported that the arrests of suspects went down in “France, Germany, the Netherlands, Brazil, and Israel,” with the suspects in Israel reported as “a 35-year-old resident of Tel Aviv and a 34-year-old resident of Ashdod.”
News of Deep Dot Web’s takedown follows news last week that authorities in the U.S. and Europe had busted dark web black market hub Wall Street Marketand arrested numerous individuals accused of operating it, with FBI Special Agent Leroy Shelton writing in court documents that it was “one of the largest and most voluminous darknet marketplaces of all time.” Authorities alleged the Wall Street Market site not only trafficked in drugs, weapons, and stolen data, but that its operators prepared an exit scam in which they stole approximately $11 million from user accounts the month before the bust.