The darknet market economy appears to be unphased by ramped up efforts of law enforcement to bring it down. One month after the U.S. Department of Justice announced the results of Operation Dark HunTor – a multinational sting that netted the arrest of some 150 individuals – the number of notable darknet markets currently in operation has increased to what could be a record high. This holds true even after taking into consideration the recent retirements of White House Market and Cannazon.
A series of interviews with market admins performed by news outlet Sputnik supports the idea that admins and vendors are largely undeterred by takedowns; the majority of them attributing lapses in OpSec (“human error”) to the downfall of their peers. The interviews paint a picture of market admins being confident in their practices and assuming law enforcement to remain reliant on classic techniques rather than employing new exploits or exotic tracing methods.
The list of markets maintained by Recon, the dark market indexing service.
In general, admins saw the darknet market phenomenon as unstoppable and only capable of increasing in growth and popularity in the future.
“At the end of the day every bust only creates more markets,” an admin identified as Gibson from Versus Market told Sputnik.
“For every market they shut down a few new markets rise. (It’s) a battle they can’t win. Look at how many markets there are right now. Last time I checked it was more than 20 and there are new market popping up all the time.” – Gibson, Versus admin
According to stats kept by Recon, there are currently 29,100 vendors offering 25,400 listings across 15 different markets. The list of active markets indexed by Recon includes AlphaBay, CannaHome, Versus, Monopoly, Dark0de, DarkFox, Cartel Marketplace, ASAP, Cypher, Tor2Door, ToRReZ, World Market, Bohemia, Archetyp, and Incognito.
During the Dark HunTor raids, 150 alleged darknet market vendors and associates were arrested in the US, UK, Australia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. The raids resulted in the confiscation of a combined $31+ million in crypto funds and hundreds of pounds of various drugs, as well. Dark HunTor drew from information gleaned from the January takedown of DarkMarket, which was the biggest darknet market at the time.