Russian Authorities Busted RAMP, the Oldest Darknet Market
Russian police, in July 2017, shut down the largest remaining darknet market: RAMP aka Russian Anonymous Marketplace. The news surfaced through an official document provided to TASS, a Russian news agency. In July, RAMP went offline for an abnormal and unexpected period of time, naturally distilling fear amongst users. Alphabay and Hansa went down the same month.The market admin, Darkside, launched the market in September 2012 and, save for chronic DDoS attacks, RAMP almost effortlessly became the largest marketplace to date.
Then, as if it had dropped from standard DDoS attacks, Russian law enforcement ended the market’s reign. TASS received this news—and official documentation—thanks to a question directed towards Deputy Interior Minister Mikhail Vanichkin by State Duma member Anton Gorelkin. The State Duma member asked the Deputy Interior Minister about steps taken to combat internet drug trafficking. The Deputy Interior Minister responded, in part, as follows:
“As a result of the activities carried out in July 2017, the largest Russian-language trading platform RAMP (Russian anonymous marketplace), the largest in the Russian language segment, was terminated. [The MVD has permanently implemented] a set of measures aimed at identifying and suppressing the activities of members of criminal groups engaged in the distribution of synthetic drugs, potent substances, precursors and cocaine in a non-contact way using the Internet.”
“The main efforts are aimed at suppression of drug supply channels and elimination of organized groups and criminal communities engaged in their sale,” he added. When asked by TASS for a response to the above answer (and the undisclosed portions), Gorelkin called the removal of RAMP “excellent news.” He mentioned that many RAMP users and admins had believed that law enforcement ignored RAMP, allowing it to stay online for so much longer than other markets. ”The RAMP administrators themselves in interviews with journalists boasted that,” the State Duma member added.
In one interview with Meduza, Nikkon, a guarantor on one of Russia’s largest darknet forums known as “Runion” provided a similar opinion regarding Russian darknet markets and forums. As did Korabas, one of the forum’s mainstays: “the security services are far away from Tor.” He added that Russian law enforcement “still don’t consider [hidden services] a threat.” The Amberoad hacker, Sleepwalker, agreed with respect to the darknet sites that were primarily forums. Unlike RAMP’s forum layout but obvious market intentions. “[Russian police] are, of course, interested in large stores like Ramp,” Sleepwalker said. “But a conflict with them is inevitable as more and more people begin to spill onto Tor. Exciting times are upon us.”
And even Wired had something to add—in 2014: “It isn’t exactly clear how RAMP has managed to avoid the same fate as Silk Road and its successors. The explanation may be as straightforward as the fact it targets users in Russia, where law enforcement often turns a blind eye to online crime.”
Although the Russian market was generally ignored by Western media, for many obvious reasons (language barriers, for one), the fact remains that law enforcement agencies took down three darknet drug markets during a single month. Three of the most popular ones, at that. Russia’s operation against the oldest marketplace in existence seemingly took far less time to produce results than the FBI’s Alphabay operation.