From the moment the Silk Road began, a game of cat and mouse was played between international law enforcement agencies and darknet market operators (DNM). Over the past two years, law enforcement agencies have destroyed many markets such as Hansa and the huge Alphabay. Months later, Dream and Wall Street disappeared, and DNM online communities were deplated. Despite the obstacles in this way, today there are still more than 12 effective DNMs, and forums filled with hidden market participants are growing in number again.
For the participants of the Darknet market, the last two years have been very difficult
All over the world, law enforcement agencies pay great attention to closing darknet markets. It’s almost the same as the drug fightings on the streets, but investigations and battles are fought in the deepest corners of the network. In the summer of 2017, investigators made progress when the main operation, organized by the FBI, DEA, the Dutch National Police and Europol, informed the world that it had closed the massive DNM Alphabay. The market, like the Silk Road, sold illegal drugs for cryptocurrencies and managed to attract 200,000 users and 40,000 sellers.
People could choose between 100,000 lists of falsified documents and over 250,000 lists of marijuana and chemicals. After police detachments closed Alphaby, they also captured a DNM called Hansa, which saw a enormous influx of users after Alphabay got dark. Law enforcement agencies acted under the guise of Hansa, collecting information about customers and suppliers, while recording details obtained from more than 50,000 cryptocurrency transactions.
Many believe that the covert operation in the Hansa prompted the police to find out a little bit more information about the DNM ecosystem. After the closure of two trading floors, the next year was filled with random arrests of the seller and DNM almost a day later. One particular website, Deepdotweb, a portal publishing stories of these arrests, as well as links and DNM reviews, was seized in May 2019. Pennsylvania Western District Attorneys published 13-page indictment against Deepdotweb (DDW) owners. A month earlier, Reddit banned the use of subreddit darknetmarkets after the forum had gathered 180,000 subscribers.
Reddit administrators said the ban follows a new rule prohibiting the discussion of certain types of products on the Reddit platform. According to the company, subreddit darknetmarkets violated the “Reddit policy regarding transactions related to prohibited goods or services.” A few months later, Reddit also closed darknetmarketsnoobs for the same violations. Following the online community and the publication of the DDW publication, the popular Dream Market closed its doors and a suspicious fraudulent program followed Wall Street.
A new forum and over 11 active dynamic markets in 2019
Despite the loss of all these markets and online communities, both parts of the DNM ecosystem continue to grow steadily. September 8, 2019, according to darknetstats.com, there are still 11 dark trading floors. The site is regularly updated with DNM information, and the last update was two weeks ago. The diagram does not contain an exhaustive list of all available DNMs, since there are many more in the hidden list. Well-known and established DNMs that are currently listed as “online” and “active” include the Majestic Garden, Samsara Market, Kannazon Market, Berlusconi Market, Empire Market, Agarta Market, Yellow Brick Market, Horus Market, Genesis Market ,Kryptonia market, gray market Dark Market and Nightmare Market. News.Bitcoin.com has published descriptive information about seven operating DNM operating systems as of June 2019. All of them offer various goods for sale and various functions in the market, such as multi-currency support, multi-signature and escrow systems, as well as some of them, you need an invitation from a member to join.
Оn top of that, to the many available DNMs, a new Reddit forum called darknet is growing exponentially. Since the creation of the subreddit forum, the number of subscribers has reached more than 61,000. Just like on the old forum, the new darknet has a “Monday market discussion,” which is quite lively, a “market mega-thread” and daily conversations about things like dab cartridges, Netflix accounts, provider reputation and security operations (opsec) methods.
The forum became so large that subscribers asked the moderators darknet to remove the place. For example, a popular post written on September 7 is called “Mods, if you don’t clean this place, you’ll be featured on CNN.” In this thread, darknet subscribers discuss how big the forum has become and several people insist that the forum mods had to do something with some posts.
Maybe a little extreme in everything related to CNN, but everyone publically asks the most stupid questions, which reveal much more than they think, mods need to reveal some threads periodically one person commented on this topic . The mod team needs modernization – there are many posts that violate the rules another Redditor noted.
Continuous power of the Agora
Despite the paranoia, messages appear on the forum every hour in which people ask all questions about DNM. Mods have rules such as accounts under four days old that cannot be commented on or published, and discussion of carding schemes is strictly prohibited. Moreover, posts that ask about market declines are also automatically deleted. “These messages do not require much effort and fill the forum,” the mod rules darknet explain. Although some of the largest DNMs have bitten dust in the last two years, ecosystem members don’t seem to care. Like the mythical snake-water monster Hydra, every time the law enforcement authorities chop off the head of the DNM, a few more DNMs appear.
As the global drug war continues, law enforcement agencies and participants in the DNM will fight for supremacy, with one group leading from time to time. Although it sometimes seems that three-letter agencies win, there will always be people who believe that vices are not crimes, and adults, by agreement, will continue to do what they want. In the same way, as the founder of the Silk Road once said, these markets are based on an anti-authoritarian stance related to agorism, and the movement is much larger than in 2011-2012.
Each individual transaction that occurs outside of state control is a victory for those people who take part in this transaction, therefore, thousands of victories take place here every week, and each of them matters, strengthens the agora and weakens the state, the Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR) told to the DNM community in 2012.
Looking at the abundance of the DNMs today and the growth of the darknet forum, it is clear that the anti-authoritarian belief system and market economy are still flourishing.
What do you think of the DNM ecosystem, vibrant markets, and the upcoming RedditDarknet forum in 2019? Let us know what you think on this subject in the comments section below.
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