It's rare that a darknet market lasts this long or shuts down cleanly. A DEA bust announced today may be related to Dream Market's scheduled April 30th closure.

Dream Market Shuts Down: Has the DEA Claimed Another Darknet Victim?

After almost six years in operation, Dream Market is calling it quits. CCN has confirmed rumors of the shutdown. Since the original message was unsigned, there is some confusion about its derivation. Has law enforcement thoroughly co-opted the platform, and plans to move it to a new market which is a total honey trap? As the poster on Dread says, “Only law enforcement knows.”

Moving to a Partner Market — Or Overtaken By DEA?

Dream is not allowing the creation of new accounts, and officially notes its closure will take place on April 30th.

Users on the dark web’s version of Reddit initially weren’t sure if the news was real or not.

The darkweb version of Reddit had a lot to say about Dream’s closure. Dream is the second-most popular Darknet Market today.

Dream has been in operation so long, it’s hard to believe they’re giving up now. Unlike most darknet marketplaces, they’re quitting before they get shut down. They’re also not running off with everyone’s money, another point in their favor. As one user on Dread put it:

Well guess they god tired, who can blame them though? They stood out for everyone when all older markets disappeared, exit scammed or seized. Now the markets have competition ha jkk.

No Exit Scam — Or Tracking Funds As They Leave The Market?

Exit scams are a common occurrence in the digital underworld. Multisignature wallets have improved the ability to secure funds, but ultimately these require significantly more work on the part of the marketplaces. Dream had the typical deposit and withdraw model, as does the other popular market at the current time, Wall Street Market.

Six years is a long time on the dark web. Several markets have been taken down as a result of investigations into big time users. The dark net has been a less sensational topic during the downturn of the crypto market. The legalization of marijuana in several jurisdictions since days of the Silk Road has also lowered demand for the Dark Net. Certain types of drugs are still highly sought after, particularly opiates, for which a California woman was recently arrested following a lengthy investigation.

4-Star Ratings, Ending on a Good Note

The “partner market” noted by Dream doesn’t appear to be operational yet. The address given for the partner market doesn’t load anything at this time.

Dream has an average of four stars after more than 1800 reviews at DeepDotWeb, a clear net website devoted to the dark web.

While the view is unpopular, rational arguments have been made that Ross Ulbricht’s Silk Road was the first application to provide real liquidity and demand for Bitcoin. The marketplace moved millions of dollars worth illegal drugs along with counterfeit items. Certain items were banned on Silk Road that other markets have sold in the meantime, including child pornography.

Dread Pirate Roberts’ Legacy

Ulbricht, known in the underworld as Dread Pirate Roberts, never sold any drugs on Silk Road himself. Nevertheless, he was given a life sentence for his role in facilitating a non-violent, digital way for people to buy and sell drugs online. The business model he created has been replicated many times. Dream was founded in the wake of Silk Road’s closure, and has consistently operated ever since.

Its closure is likely to raise questions about the “partner market.” The market has yet to give any official reason for its upcoming closure.

One particularly chilling aspect of the closure, at least to participants, is the DEA’s less publicized news that it made a huge bust today.

The DEA says:

As a result of Operation SaboTor, U.S. and international law enforcement agencies made 61 arrests and shut down 50 Darknet accounts used for illegal activity. Law enforcement executed 65 search warrants, seizing 299.5 kilograms of drugs, 51 firearms, and more than $7 million ($4.5 million in cryptocurrency, $2.48 million in cash, and $40,000 in gold). They also conducted 122 interviews. In addition, participating agencies engaged in public education efforts regarding the dangers of opioid abuse during the operation.

DEA Darknet Bust Shakes Faith

It’s interesting to note that the “accounts” were shut down, but not the markets themselves. This will only further stoke suspicions that the new marketplace is actually funded by the government – a honey trap to end all honey traps. A Dread user pointed this news out and said:

I would suggest running like it was on fucking fire.

Time will tell what becomes of Dream market. At present, users are able to withdraw their funds, and many on the dark web are recommending they do so immediately. This in and of itself may be a risk if done without some degree of anonymity, however, since the DEA could be watching those transactions as well.

Give a law enforcement man a single drug dealer and he will be happy for a day. Give him an entire userbase and he will make his career on it.