Dark Web Drug Marketplace Shut Down; Alleged Co-Founder Dies

By Victoria Kim 07/20/17

The major online illegal drug marketplace processed up to $800,000 of transactions daily.

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The sudden shutdown of AlphaBay—the website where people could buy and sell illicit offerings like heroin, guns and stolen credit card information—sparked rumors that the website’s administrators had pulled the plug to make off with customers’ money.

But last Thursday (July 13) the Wall Street Journal reported that the online marketplace—accessible only through a special browser—was shuttered by the FBI, the culmination of investigations spanning three countries.

Even more shocking was news of the death of Alexandre Cazes, who authorities believe was a co-founder of AlphaBay. He was reportedly found dead in a Bangkok jail cell in Thailand while being held by the local Narcotics Suppression Bureau just one hour before he was due at a meeting to discuss his extradition to the U.S.

The Quebec native was facing drug trafficking charges. Bangkok police say the 26-year-old’s death was the result of suicide.

Cazes was arrested on July 5th, the same day AlphaBay went offline. In addition to shutting down the website, authorities seized several million dollars, three properties and four Lamborghinis that belonged to Cazes, according to the Independent.

AlphaBay processed up to $800,000 of transactions daily and was said to be one of the largest dark web marketplaces out there.

The website has been around since 2014, according to the Sydney Morning Heraldthe year after authorities closed down the Silk Road, another dark web marketplace, and gave founder Ross Ulbricht life in prison.  

A Philadelphia man is facing charges this month after two fatal fentanyl overdoses were traced to his AlphaBay account. Thirty-two-year-old Henry Konah Koffie was arrested after police were able to identify him as the source of the fentanyl that killed two people in Portland, Oregon. 

Further inspection of Koffie's past transactions under the usernames NARCOBOSS and DNMKINGPIN revealed that he had sold fentanyl, sometimes falsely advertising it as “China White Heroin,” through more than 3,700 transactions in the past year. 

During this time, authorities say Koffie had received 14 packages containing suspected fentanyl shipped from China or Hong Kong to the residences of his family members.

Upon a search of his home, authorities seized 500 grams of suspected fentanyl and $137,000.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr