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World's largest online illegal drug marketplace goes dark

Russell Contreras / AP

AlphaBay, the largest online marketplace for drugs, has been out of commission for the past two days, prompting users to question the reasons behind its outage, per the New York Times.

  • Possibility #1: The site has been seized by federal investigators, much like the Silk Road in 2013.
  • Possibility #2: The site's operators have shut it down in an "exit scam," making off with users' deposited cash — no small sum since AlphaBay routinely cleared $600,000 to $800,000 daily.
  • Possibility #3: The site is simply down for maintenance, as one of its administrators claimed in a post on Reddit.

Why it matters: With the opioid epidemic raging, dark web drug sites are a big source of illegal drugs — but even if the federal government managed to shut down AlphaBay, there are already plenty of competitors ready to take its place.