back to article AlphaBay and Hansa: About those dark web marketplaces takedowns

A US Federal Bureau of Investigation veteran has spoken out on the international police ops that led to the takedown of dark web drug souks AlphaBay and Hansa, giving an insider's look at the process. Joseph Campbell served for 25 years in the FBI, where he led criminal investigations into child exploitation and the trade in …

  1. JimmyPage

    TL;DR -

    Criminals are stupid.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TL;DR -

      99% of politicians would disagree.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TL;DR -

      Criminals who get caught, and don't have the social status to escape punishment, are stupid.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: TL;DR -

        Criminals who get caught, and don't have the social status to escape punishment, are stupid.

        Correct. The scoffing sounds you hear come from the White House - if you *really* want to commit crime and get away with it you need to be either in the warface business, or launder money via real estate. Oh, and make sure your kids actually study instead of just buying them their degree..

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: TL;DR -

        > Criminals who get caught, and don't have the social status to escape punishment, are stupid.

        Criminals who get caught and do have the status to escape punishment are still stupid - witness American College Football players aka 'jocks' aka rapists

        1. Maty

          Re: TL;DR -

          You know, that sounds like you are calling US football players rapists.

          Following your link, and leaving out the repitions and unproven claims I found less than 100 cases this year. But let's round it up to 100, to be on the safe side.

          Now there are over a million teens and young adults who play football in the USA

          Which makes the number of rapists around one in 10,000. This is actually well below the percentage of rapes per male population of the UK. You might as well say British men are rapists.

          Now, back to the issue of stupidity ...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: TL;DR -

            @ Maty

            I said 'American College Football Players" which you changed to "teens and young adults who play football" in your reply.

            College football certainly had and maybe still has a problem. Rather than compare numbers with society at large why not compare numbers with other student organisations? College Marching Bandsmen, for example? I don't recall reading about them committing rapes.

            You're support is exactly why College Football has such a problem: the number of rapes committed should be zero not "less than <insert other demographic>".

    3. Schultz

      Criminals are stupid. But what about the police, the politicians, the society?

      The war on drugs began many decades ago and is probably older than the average reader of this site. (see: the-war-on-drugs, brief-history-drug-war)

      Look at the abundance of drugs today, and give me your honest opinion:

      ( ) The police won the war.

      ( ) The drugs won the war.

      Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me my whole lifetime, ...?

      Let's face it, if those new fentanyl opiates are powerful enough that you can send a years' supply in an envelope, then you might just as well give up the police work. Upside: those powerful synthetic opiates may put the Afghan (Columbian, ...) drug lords out of business. That might end some wars.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dunno, but...

    Once someone decides to split all divisions of crininal trade into the smallest possible entry points, it's going to be hard to stop. Clearly I know very little about three sites, but it seems that once they stop being the Amazon of illegal goods and start being the Bittorrent of them, they will be up much longer. Problem is unionizing a band of THIEVES. However, that's not impossible.

    1. HausWolf

      Re: Dunno, but...

      Spectre on line 1

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dunno, but...

        ?? Sorry, as a video gamer Spectre means something different to me I guess. Are you implying my input is cast from thin air to join me in rigorous thought? Actually, you're on to something. I may need to debuff thought prior.

        1. The Count

          Re: Dunno, but...

          As for Spectre, trying the James Bond movie or the old Agent 99 TV show.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whilst it is entirely obvious that drug use affects lives, we must consider that the merchants of drugs are the ones to be targeted.

    I fully support a move towards decriminalisation for personal use. We need to offer support to drug addicts and not punishment.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We need to tackle the root cause of drug abuse: alienation under capitalism.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Never worked out why instead of criminalizing the supply and use of drugs, governments didn't muscle in on the action and take a % of the profits as taxes. Would save probably billions worldwide annually just in enforcement and punishment costs that could be put to better use and that is without mention of the thousands of lives lost to settle disputes in the supply chain

      1. emmanuel goldstein

        It's a no-brainer

        Correct. A lot of people have been saying this for years. The War on Drugs has been an unmitigated disaster - by every conceivable metric it has failed. The epic fail of epic fails, you might say.

        1. Khaptain

          Re: It's a no-brainer

          I always presumed that the problem with Drug "Merchants" is that there are probably quite a few who are actually public figures or establishments who constantly line the pockets of the law makers...

          Considered the sheer quantity of drugs, measuring in thousands of tons per month, that are distributed in the world, it is very difficult to believe that only the Underworld are involved.

          Then there is the problem of money laundering the sheer amounts of cash that must be involved. How can this possibly only be "under the cover".... We are literally talking Billions of Euros/Dollars that are capable of becoming untraced.....

          It's like illegal arms, there are almost always governments or government figures lurking on the sidelines.

        2. Kiwi

          Re: It's a no-brainer

          The War on Drugs has been an unmitigated disaster - by every conceivable metric it has failed.

          All except one it seems.

          Against all research, against the best advice experts can give, against the simple use of eyes and brains, governments keep up their "war on drugs" idiocy, no matter how much obvious harm it does.

          There must be something in it for them. Insanity doesn't cover this level of fail. So whatever it is, there is something these politicians (or their "controllers") want from all this, and they seem to be getting it, otherwise the "war" would've ended years ago. And successfully, as they would've given up the wasteful methods and moved on to stuff that works.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Never worked out why instead of criminalizing the supply and use of drugs, governments didn't muscle in on the action and take a % of the profits as taxes.

        Because that is money going to the State, whereas presently it goes to a select few who then buy themselves the status quo.

      3. mrobaer
        Black Helicopters

        Why don't governments muscle in on the action?

        When it's legal, the prices would drop. When it's illegal, those in the business make more money off of the higher prices. Look at how prohibition of alcohol went over in the USA.

        I ask myself, "Why would my government desire to keep recreational drugs illegal?" Considering the obvious fact that the production of said drugs is unregulated, the product can be abnormally dangerous. If the government wanted us to be safer, and also take money away from the criminal empires living off the drug trade, they would certainly legalize it, regulate it, and profit from it. The fact that they're not doing that, leads me to believe they are involved in the criminal empire making lucrative profits. There is no desire for our covert government to be chopping off it's own hands.

        You also have the pharmaceutical player in the game. Here in the USA, I believe a drug patent has a significant amount of time given before other companies are allowed to compete as generics. There is no question that prescribed medicines are used recreationally. In the town I live in (population 23,000) we have had several physicians busted for over-prescribing medication (usually opioids) who received either a kickback from the pharmaceutical company or the 'patient' who was profiting from selling the pills on the street.

        The "War on Drugs" is a competition eliminating venture, not a public safety venture.

        1. Kiwi

          Re: Why don't governments muscle in on the action?

          If the government wanted us to be safer, and also take money away from the criminal empires living off the drug trade, they would certainly legalize it, regulate it, and profit from it.

          Oh for a thousand upvotes! Have to settle for one from me and a virtual ---->

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Because criminalization of use and supply was a way of criminalizing a group of people it would have been a bit politically dodgy to criminalize directly... Making it illegal to be a hippy is a bit more fascist than making it illegal to get high.

      5. ridley

        I could never understand why when we were in Helmand, Afghanistan we tried to persuade the Afghans not to grow poppies (going so far as destroying crops) when the poppies were the best money earning crop that the Afghan farmers could grow.

        Meanwhile back in blighty because of the shortage of Opiods in the NHS we were, at great expense, licencing some UK farmers to grow poppies....

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Follow the money

        "Would save probably billions worldwide annually just in enforcement and punishment costs that could be put to better use "

        On behalf of the people raking it in by either running the criminal organisations, or the for profit penal institutions that manage to paid coming, going and while they are fucking you, those billions are going just where we want them, thanks.

        It's almost like having a criminalized underclass is structurally useful in oppressing your population. Piss us off, and for the cost of 100 grand and a hundred grams of something pure you can be framed up as a drug king pin and spend your good years inside. Or get shot during the arrest.

        Turns out some nice white folks who aren't at all interested in drug crime are still pretty keen on anything that can be used to control the negroid race. From the AG downwards....

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I fully support a move towards decriminalisation for personal use. We need to offer support to drug addicts and not punishment.

      Not going to happen for a while yet, for a simple reason: its criminal status keeps the price up so the whole supply chain keeps making a massive profit. Many American family fortunes were built on the Prohibition which made alcohol really expensive - this is really no different as the people raking it in have absolutely no interest in the deleterious effect this has (they're not paying tax anyway, so elevated health and social costs don't matter much to them).

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is why Tribes need to set up server farms on reservations.

    With the backing of a tribe, the Feds, Eeropol and every other Global wannabe power can't touch it.

    1. emmanuel goldstein

      Re: This is why Tribes need to set up server farms on reservations.

      Tribal Sovereignty - the unique legal rights of native Americans - is restricted to specific areas of law such as hunting & fishing, water and gaming. It doesn't mean they can ignore all Federal laws and do what the fuck they feel like.

  5. Whiznot

    Those who say that the war on drugs failed are missing the point. The politicians who have generated billions from a forced monopoly know that prohibition is a goldmine. Only idiots assume that the point of the drug war is to protect society.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    unintended consequences

    " AlphaBay's administrator, Alexandre Cazes, used his personal email on password reset emails, compounding the error by using the same email on LinkedIn"

    idiot. However: anyone want to put money on none of the "but we need warrantless surveillance" politicians doing similar things?

  7. Snorlax

    Middle-class white kids aren't built for serious prison time

    Step 1. Don't use your everyday box for running your dark web store.

    Step 2. Remember the 7 proxies meme. Or Tails inside a bunch of virtual machines?

    Step 3. Uh, profit?

    The problem with Alexandre Cazes (and Ross Ulbricht before him) is that he thought he was a lot smarter than he actually was.

    Ulbricht like doing his admin tasks in public libraries. The FBI figured out what libraries he frequented, and snatched his laptop while two agents diverted his attention with a fake fight. And hiring bikers to carry out six murders? WTF? He must have seen to many episodes of Sons of Anarchy...

    Cazes was in Thailand with a bunch of houses and Lamborghinis. An ostentatious Westerner is guaranteed to attract attention from the local plod unless bribes are paid. No wonder he hung himself rather than face time in a Thai prison.

    1. quxinot

      Re: Middle-class white kids aren't built for serious prison time

      ^ Dunning-Kruger strikes again!

  8. Ben Rosenthal

    Do LEA's really think losing a couple of grand that was stuck in escrow will stop this multi million dollar global business?

    Yeah, someone in this story is stupid.

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