On Tuesday, the US Treasury Department announced sanctions on a well-known Russian darknet market site and a cryptocurrency exchange that it claims is located in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the penalties against Hydra and currency exchange Garantex, which were published on the Treasury Department’s website, “send a message today to criminals that you cannot hide on the darknet or their forums.”
According to blockchain analysts, Hydra, which the Treasury Department describes as the world’s “biggest and most popular darknet market,” received almost 86 percent of illegal bitcoin received directly by Russian crypto exchanges in 2019.
According to the Treasury, the new restrictions prevent Americans from giving or receiving “any donation or provision of monies, commodities, or services” to Hydra or Garantex.
The sanctions, which ban U.S. transactions with Hydra and Garantex and seek to freeze any assets they may have in the United States, are part of an international effort to halt the spread of malicious cybercrime services, drugs, and other illegal offerings emanating from Russia, including ransomware activity, according to the department.
Treasury helped the US Department of Justice, FBI, and German Federal Criminal Police in shutting down Hydra servers in Germany and seizing $25 million in bitcoin.