A 28-year-old mother of two has reportedly been charged with running "Black Hand", the notorious site on the dark web where narcotics, weapons and stolen data were traded. The French Minister of Public Action announced Saturday that local authorities dismantled the Black Hand marketplace - one of the largest forums on the dark web - that put up a swathe of illegal goods and services for sale for over two years.
Authorities said the site's administrator and several other accomplices tied to the marketplace were arrested. The actual server on which the forum was hosted along with computer equipment, fake identification documents, €4000 in cash and another €25,000 in digital currency were seized as well.
An unidentified, young mother hailing from northern France was arrested and accused of running the Black Hand site. The Times reports she was arrested at her home in Armentières, near Lille, on June 12 during a string of coordinated police raids across France. The woman, who went by the online monikers Anouchka and Hades, reportedly had no job or criminal record and appeared to live an ordinary life with no evidence pointing to a lavish lifestyle built off of her illegal activities.
For every sale made on the site, Black Hand took 3-5% of the cut which reportedly earned the woman tens of thousands of euros annually. She allegedly ran the website with another administrator who left a few months ago.
Two alleged moderators and a salesman were arrested in Marseilles and Montpellier as well. The suspects have been charged with belonging to a criminal gang with a view to prepare crime - a charge that carries a maximum ten year prison sentence. Meanwhile, officials are currently looking to identify drug dealers who used the illegal site.
Investigators said more than 3000 registered users were swapping illegal items and services via the site.
“This exceptional operation, the first of its kind in France, took place simultaneously in several cities in France and mobilized more than forty DNRED and Customs agents, and several technical experts,” Minister of Public Action and Accounts Gerald Darmanin said in a statement. “I congratulate the DNRED agents for this extraordinary operation. The dismantling of this platform is a first at the national level and illustrates the mobilization of the customs and in particular, the DNRED in the fight against the new forms of cybercrime."
The announcement comes at the heels of multiple dark web arrests made recently.
Dark web vendor Gal Vallerius, a 36-year-old Frenchman who went by the online moniker OxyMonster, pleaded guilty to selling drugs on Dream Market last week. He was arrested in September last year in Atlanta while trying to attend a beard-growing competition.
In May, a 25-year-old French hacker was arrested in Thailand - the eighth cybercriminal arrested by Europol and French authorities over alleged connections to the hacking group Rex Mundi.