On Tuesday, the United States imposed heavy sanctions against Hydra, a prominent darknet market site based in Russia. In addition, the U.S. Treasury Department also levied sanctions against Garatex, a cryptocurrency exchange, said to principally operate in St. Petersburg and Moscow.
The sanctions were announced on the U.S. Treasury Department’s website, with Secretary Janet Yellen proclaiming that the sanctions are intended to “send a message today to criminals that you cannot hide on the darknet or their forums.”
Per various blockchain researchers, roughly 86 percent of Bitcoin acquired via illicit gains was received directly from Hydra in 2019.
The U.S. Treasury Department has long characterized Hydra as the “largest and most prominent darknet market” in the world.
Consequently, the most recent round of sanctions from the United States prevent American individuals from either receiving or making “any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services” to either Garentex or Hydra, per the U.S. Treasury Department.
The Department noted that the recently imposed sanctions, which also prohibit any American transactions with either Garantex or Hydra, will help to achieve one of its key objectives, including freezing assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.
The Treasury Department’s efforts come amid an international effort to dismantle the widespread omnipresence of nefarious cyber crime activities, narcotics, another illegal services, which can include ransomware activity, much of which originates in Russia.
The U.S. Treasury Department’s efforts correspond to those of the FBI, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the German Federal Criminal Police. The latter announced success in shutting down Hydra servers across Germany and seizing $25M worth of Bitcoin.