US Court Seizes Assets Worth Millions From AlphaBay’s Dead Founder Alexandre Cazes

A U.S court has seized several luxury cars, among them a Lamborghini and a Porsche, and real estate properties worth over $12 million from now-deceased AlphaBay owner Alexandre Cazes.

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A U.S court has seized several luxury cars, among them a Lamborghini and a Porsche, and real estate properties worth over $12 million from now-deceased AlphaBay owner Alexandre Cazes.

The civil forfeiture case that has been going on for well over a year concluded on September 6.

In the case filed at the U.S. District Court in California, authorities had sought to seize the assets and property connected to the dark web kingpin.

Alexandre Cazes was a Canadian national arrested in Thailand on suspicion of being the mastermind behind the AlphaBay marketplace. He committed suicide just hours before meeting prosecutors who wanted him extradited to the U.S.

He was due to stand trial on charges relating to the sale of weapons and drug trafficking. Other charges were related to conspiracy to commit fraud, money laundering, racketeering, and identity theft, all facilitated by his darknet marketplace.

AlphaBay had become one of the largest dark web markets in the world before its dramatic shut down in July 2017.

Law enforcement officers from the Thai Police, F.B.I, and D.E.A arrested Cazes, aka DeSnake, at one of his Bangkok mansions on July 7 last year. The officers, who lured him from the lavish home by crashing their car into his gate, are said to have found a trove of incriminating evidence against the suspect.

There were administrative accounts, together with passwords and other details linked to the AlphaBay website on a laptop in the suspect’s bedroom.

The then 26-year old Cazes’ net worth was estimated to be about $23 million according to documents presented before the court.

The riches included vast sums of money, high-end real estate properties, and luxury cars, which all pointed to a lavish lifestyle all financed by the fortunes obtained from black market transactions.

Crypto holdings

Financial documents for AlphaBay showed that the site only accepted payments made via cryptocurrencies, similar to the infamous Silk Road marketplace. As a result, Cazes had amassed over $8.8 million in crypto assets.

These included some 1,605.05 Bitcoins (BTC), 8,309 Ethereum (ETH), 3,691 ZCash (ZEC) and several thousand Monero (XMR) coins.

The computer expert is said to have moved customer funds via “mixers” and “tumblers” and obscured transactions histories by combining digital assets into numerous wallets.

Cazes and his Thai wife Sunisa Thapsuwan liquidated the crypto into fiat using bank accounts in Thailand, Switzerland and the Caribbean.

They also bought six beachfront resorts on the coasts of Thailand, Cyprus and the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda and St. Phillips South.

U.S authorities filed the forfeiture motion seeking a collective $12 million in cars and real estate against claimants listed as Cazes, his wife Sunisa, and his parents.

Silk Road 2.0

AlphaBay launched its underground operations in 2014, and by the time of its shut down last year,  had reached over 400,000 users with daily transactions reaching $800,000.

As one of the busiest dark web marketplaces, AlphaBay had grown to be almost ten times bigger than Silk Road.

Silk Road began in 2011 and was hailed as the Amazon of the dark web by criminals everywhere. A one-stop-shop for drugs, weapons, and other illegal activities, it shut down in October 2013 after U.S law enforcers arrested its founder Ross Ulbricht.

Ulbricht faced trial and was sentenced to serve both a life sentence and a concurrent 40 years imprisonment in a Colorado prison. Ulbricht faced similar charges to those prosecutors had preferred against Cazes.

However, his sentence factored in the added allegation of murder-for-hire, leading to life without the possibility of parole.

Despite several appeals, and the courts have since dismissed the murder-for-hire allegations against Ulbricht, his sentence has remained unchanged.

The U.S Supreme court last December rejected two appeals, although these came a month before the courts dismissed the murder charges.

A campaign targeting Ulbricht’s release or clemency is ongoing, with family and friends lobbying the U.S Congress and launching the Free Ross petition on Twitter and on Change.org.

The petition has attracted over 80k signatures asking the U.S president to grant him clemency. Cazes likely committed suicide to avoid facing extradition to the U.S, fearing a future similar to that of Ulbricht.

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