Last Wednesday, July 20, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the “largest dark net marketplace takedown in world history,” bringing to a screeching halt a network of hidden websites that provided illegal weapons, deadly drugs, stolen identities and child pornography.
The illegal, online network, AlphaBay, included over 40,000 illegal vendors who provided services to over 200,000 customers, “pouring fuel on the fire of the national drug epidemic.” At least 250,000 listings on the site were illegal drugs, which amounted to over two-thirds of all listings on the site at the time of the takedown, according to the Justice Department.
AlphaBay, established in 2014, was founded by Alexandre Cazes, a 26-year-old Canadian citizen who had moved to Thailand in 2010 and married a Thai woman, Sunisa Thapsuwan. Cazes is described as a “computer whiz” with an IQ of 142 whose network may have included at least Bt10 billion ($298 million USD) in shady deals.
At the request of the United States Justice Department, the couple was arrested in Thailand on July 5, and Cazes then committed suicide by hanging himself in jail on July 12. However, officials are continuing to move forward with the investigation and have reportedly seized over Bt726 million worth of assets ($21 million USD).
According to the U.S. Justice Department:
“On July 19, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California filed a civil forfeiture complaint against Alexandre Cazes and his wife’s assets located throughout the world, including in Thailand, Cyprus, Lichtenstein, and Antigua & Barbuda. Cazes and his wife amassed numerous high value assets, including luxury vehicles, residences and a hotel in Thailand. Cazes also possessed millions of dollars in cryptocurrency, which has been seized by the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).”
Cazes was to have been extradited to the United States, where he faced charges of racketeering, conspiracy and money laundering. His wife, Sunisa Cazes, still faces charges as the investigation moves forward.
The takedown of this massive, global operation was an international effort, led by the United States and assisted by law enforcement authorities in Thailand, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Canada, the United Kingdom, and France, as well as the European law enforcement agency Europol, the Justice Department reported.
However, the announcement of this incredible accomplishment by the Justice Department was overshadowed by the media’s focus on another event that occurred the same day – as news broke of President Trump’s interview with The New York Times in which he stated he wouldn’t have hired Sessions if he had known he was going to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
At the press conference announcing the AlphaBay takedown, reporters were more interested in asking Sessions about whether he was considering resigning over President Trump’s statements to the NY Times, prompting his response, “We in this department of Justice will continue every single day to serve in the national interest, and we wholeheartedly join in the priorities of President Trump. He gave us several directives, one is to dismantle transnational criminal organizations. That’s what we’re announcing today.”
Below is the full press conference announcing the AlphaBay takedown by Attorney General Sessions and his Justice Department last Wednesday. A transcript of Sessions’ remarks is available HERE.
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