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The US imposes sanctions on Russia’s Hydra Market and Garantex

On April 5, 2022, the US Department of Treasury announced its plans to impose sanctions against Russian-based crypto exchange Garantex, as well as the world’s biggest darknet marketplace known as the Hydra Market. The Biden administration believes that these will disrupt the distribution of dangerous drugs, cybercrime services and other illicit transactions available on the site. 

The national treasury has started collaborating with the Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and Homeland Security Investigations in targeting Hydra.

‘Our actions send a message today to criminals that you cannot hide on the darknet or their forums, and you cannot hide in Russia or anywhere else in the world. In coordination with allies and partners, like Germany and Estonia, we will continue to disrupt these networks’, stated Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen.

This recent decision was prompted after the German Federal Criminal Police revealed that they had shut down Hydra’s servers in the country, seizing more than US$25,000,000 worth of Bitcoin linked to the darknet.

The US agency has also accused Russian-based crypto exchange Garantex of neglecting the anti-money laundering requirements imposed by regulators on exchange platforms. According to the press release, the said exchange is known for enabling cybercriminals to operate on the site, putting users’ digital assets on the line. It has already processed transactions worth more than US$100,000,000.

‘Some virtual currency exchanges are exploited by malicious actors, but others, as is the case with Garantex, Suex and Chatex, facilitate illicit activities for their gains. Treasury continues to use its authorities against malicious cyber actors and their facilitators in concert with other U.S. departments and agencies, as well as our foreign partners, to disrupt financial nodes tied to ransomware payments, cyber-attacks and other illicit activity’, the agency stated.

They have also revealed the list of over 100 addresses for Tether, Bitcoin and Tether that are connected to Garantex and Hydra’s undertakings. The sanctions will also prevent US citizens from dealing with transactions linked to both platforms, freezing their assets under the country’s jurisdiction.

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