A week after German and US authorities shut down the world’s largest darknet bazaar, Hydra, Russian officials arrested the accused co-founder on Friday.
The guy has been identified as Dmitry Pavlov, the administrator of the recently shuttered darknet marketplace, according to local media reports. Pavlov is being investigated in Russia for allegedly selling illegal substances on a massive scale.
Earlier this month, German police stated that they had taken control of Hydra’s German servers and seized $25 million in bitcoin assets. Pavlov, 30, was charged by the US Department of Justice with being Hydra’s server administrator.
According to the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the Central Office for Combating Cybercrime (ZIT), Hydra generated an estimated annual income of $1.35 billion, making it the world’s largest darknet market before the operation to shut it down.
Pavlov claimed he was unaware of the allegations and insisted on his innocence. He might face a sentence of 15 to 20 years in prison if convicted.
In an interview with the BBC’s Russian service last week, Pavlov said:
“As a hosting firm, we hold all required communications licenses. We do not operate any websites, but rather act as intermediaries by renting out servers.”
Pavlov was charged with conspiracy to distribute narcotics and money laundering by the Department of Justice on April 5.
Russia has been accused by the United States of collaborating with crypto-related criminal organizations, such as darknet markets and ransomware offenders.
Suex, a Russia-based cryptocurrency broker suspected of receiving more than $20 million through darknet markets such as Hydra, was sanctioned by the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in September.
Hydra operated as a hub for criminals selling illegal drugs and money laundering services, the most of which were situated in Russia.
It had around 17 million users and 19,000 registered vendor accounts prior to the catastrophe. Hydra is thought to have transacted approximately $5 billion in cryptocurrency since its debut in 2015.