Thank you Attorney General Sessions. Good morning, and thank you all for being here. I am grateful to our law enforcement agents and prosecutors for their tireless work on this case, and to our international partners for their exceptional cooperation.
The AlphaBay case is part of a larger international effort to attack dark web marketplaces that broker criminal transactions. Their alleged criminal conduct includes selling sell illegal drugs like fentanyl and heroin, stolen and fraudulent identification documents and access devices, counterfeit goods, malware and computer hacking tools, firearms, and toxic chemicals.
This was a coordinated, international operation against AlphaBay and also the Hansa Market, another dark web marketplace that the Dutch authorities have been investigating. As part of the operation, the two sites’ administrators were arrested, and authorities seized extensive evidence and illicit assets related to the two websites.
This case started with several independent investigations. We joined together and worked with our partners to coordinate the timing of our enforcement actions.
The AlphaBay takedown and the arrest of its administrator could not have happened without the unwavering support of our international partners. They include law enforcement authorities in Thailand, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Canada, the United Kingdom, and France, with support from Europol.
Our foreign partners conducted searches, seized evidence and proceeds of criminal activities, and made an arrest.
There were many moving parts in this investigation. Alleged members of the conspiracy used numerous anonymizing techniques to try to conceal their locations and identities. Peeling back one layer often took us to a new country where we needed additional assistance from another law enforcement agency. With each of development, our international colleagues expressed an immediate willingness to assist.
Dark web sites such as AlphaBay and Hansa run on the Tor network. They are hidden services designed to conceal information that could reveal the identity or location of the website and its customers.
Many dark web sites openly trade in narcotics, guns, images of sexual abuse of children, and other serious criminal conduct. An academic study published in 2015 found that the largest single category of hidden services on the Tor network was forums for the sale of drugs and contraband, and that 80 percent of traffic to hidden services related to sexual exploitation of children. Some sites have membership of hundreds of thousands of users across the globe.
Those disturbing statistics explain why disrupting and dismantling dark web sites is a priority for the Department of Justice. International cooperation is critical to our success.
Administrators and users of dark web sites use anonymizing methods to thwart law enforcement authorities. But our agents, prosecutors, analysts, and support staff work tirelessly to locate the infrastructure hosting the sites and identify the people responsible for them.
These methods present an ongoing challenge. Hundreds of sites on the TOR network still enable a vast amount of criminal conduct. We are proud of the accomplishments we announce today, but our work is not done.
We face many challenges, and we need international assistance to defeat them. The exceptional foreign cooperation with our operations to attack illegal activity on the dark web demonstrates that our international partners stand in solidarity with us to deny safe havens for cybercrime. That helps us to protect the privacy, safety, and security of Americans.