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Department Of Justice Announces Seizure Of Dark Net Site That Referred Buyers To Contraband

Kathleen J. Davis
90.5 WESA
From left to right: Brazilian Federal Police Attaché Eugenio Ricas, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard Downing, U.S. Attorney Scott Brady, FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent Bob Jones and Israel National Police Attaché Gabriel Bitton.";

A dark net website that gave users access to illegal items has been taken down, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in Pittsburgh Wednesday. The two men who ran the site have been indicted. 

Before DeepDotWeb was taken down, users could go on the site and be referred to dark net marketplaces, where contraband could be bought. Illegal goods that could be obtained included narcotics, firearms, and stolen financial information.

DeepDotWeb's owners and operators, Tal Prihar and Michael Phan, received kickback payments when users bought goods from referred marketplaces. Both are Israeli citizens, though Prihar resides in Brazil. The pair were indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh.

Credit U.S. Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania Scott Brady said this case is different from other dark net crimes the Department of Justice has prosecuted.

"This case represents the single most significant law enforcement disruption of the dark web to date," Brady said. "This case represents the first takedown of the very infrastructure that promotes illegal marketplaces where fentanyl and other illegal drugs are sold on the dark web."

According to the Department of Justice, hundreds of thousands of users used DeepDotWeb to access the marketplaces, completing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of transactions.

The investigation was done in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Brazilian Federal Police and Israeli National Police.