Posted by z3d | in DarkNetNews

Just over four years ago, the US Department of Justice announced the takedown of AlphaBay, the biggest dark web market bust in history. Thai police arrested the site's 26-year-old administrator, Alexandre Cazes, in Bangkok, and the FBI seized AlphaBay's central server in Lithuania, wiping out a marketplace that was selling hundreds of millions of dollars a year worth of hard drugs, hacked data, and other contraband to its 400,000-plus registered users. The FBI called the disruption of the site a “landmark operation.”

But the fate of one key player in that massive black market scheme was never explained: AlphaBay's former number-two administrator, security specialist, and self-described cofounder, who went by the name DeSnake. Now, four years after his market's demise, DeSnake appears to be back online and has relaunched AlphaBay under his own singular leadership. After four years off the radar, he's not keeping quiet about his return.

In an extended chat interview, DeSnake tells WIRED how he walked away unscathed from the takedown of AlphaBay, why he has resurfaced now, and what his plans are for the resurrected, once-dominant online black market. He communicated with WIRED via encrypted text messages, from a frequently changing series of pseudonymous accounts, after proving his identity by signing a public message with DeSnake's original PGP key, which multiple security researchers verified.

"The biggest reason I am returning is to make the AlphaBay name be remembered as more than the marketplace which got busted and the founder made out to have committed suicide," DeSnake writes. Cazes was found dead of an apparent suicide in a Thai jail cell a week after his arrest; like many in the dark web community, DeSnake believes Cazes was murdered in prison. He was driven to rebuild AlphaBay, he says, after reading about an FBI presentation on the circumstances of Cazes' arrest that he deemed disrespectful. "AlphaBay name was put in bad light after the raids. I am here to make amends to that."

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Rambler said () (edited )

I've not really followed Dark Web news / drama / happenings outside of what maintainers of code like Tor, I2P, etc actually publish and of course they never comment on things like this. Just bug fixes, improvements, plans, and discussion about the network itself and not the content on it.

So what's the consensus on this guy? A Fed? Lucky? Too smart to get caught so he's back to do it 'right'? I had never heard of AlphaBay until recently when I saw on /r/i2p that the site was supposed to be on the I2P network this time instead of Tor. Is that true?

And yeah, Thai prison isn't anyplace a foreigner would want to wind up... South East Asia isn't really a place anyone should go to fuck around with drugs or anything trafficking related. Your stay at the "Bangkok Hilton" isn't going to be very comfortable.

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