Italian police yesterday announced the shutdown of second biggest marketplace “Berlusconi Market” and the arrest of 3 suspects accused of running it.
Il Nucleo Speciale Tutela Privacy e Frodi Tecnologiche ( The Special Unit for the Protection of Privacy and Technological Frauds) was responsible for the shutdown of berlusconi market which was considered “the most reliable illegal resource of the dark web”.
At the time of the take down berlusconi market had over 120k advertisements for illegal products. According to the Guardia di Finanza (italian police) it was the “most important dark web market”. Around 70k listing were based on drugs including but not limited to psychedelics, cannabis, opioids, steroids, cocaine and heroin. All carefully divided into relevant categories for ease of access. It was one of the few markets that allowed the sale of weapons and had more than 5k listings for all sorts of weapons and ammunition. The site also had listings for fake national and foreign identity documents, police said.
The operation dubbed as Darknet.Drug started in early april which lead to the arrest of prolific drug dealer named “G00d00”. At the time of raid at G00d00’s safe house located in the city of barletta, italy, police recovered a huge stash of drugs consisting of cocaine, ketamine and mdma which weighed more than 2.2 kilograms.
The arrest of G00d00 was a breakthrough for police because he confessed to being part of berlusconi market’s administration. He also had access to private keys of the market which were changed after the co-admins came to know that he was arrested by italian police.
Police seized laptops and smartphones during its raid on g00d00’s house and used forensic analysis of bitcoin transactions and messaging softwares used by him to track down the rest of the admins. The police came to the conclusion that berlusconi was managed by a user named Vladimir putin who had the role of admin and Emmanuel macron was a moderator of the market.
The three accused, a 19-year-old, a 26-year-old and a 27-year-old of running the market were arrested in a raid in puglia which is located in the city of Turin, Italy.
“This is the fourth operation of this kind to make the dark web unharmful, It follows those of the FBI and Dutch police against darknet Markets like Silk Road, Alphabay and Hansa ” said Brescia Chief Prosecutor Carlo Nocerino.
At the time of the take down Berlusconi was 2nd biggest market and was on the course to become the largest darknet market. The take down wasn’t something that was unexpected for its users, many of the users lost their money but they quickly recovered as it has become a normal thing in the darknet ecosystem. As soon as one market is taken down, there are plenty of others to take its place. So the practice of seizing the markets has proven to be a waste of time rather than something useful because it won’t bring down the morale of darknet users instead it will give more publicity to the darknet world and bring more users here instead of discouraging them.