Dmitry Olegovich Pavlov, the 30-year-old alleged co-founder of the Hydra darknet market is reportedly refusing to provide access to the proceeds he acquired during his 5+ as the market’s chief operator. A Moscow court had ordered Pavlov to provide authorities with access to a seized Bitcoin wallet thought to contain a vast but unknown sum of Bitcoin.
A message posted in a Russian-language Telegram channel titled “Mash” – which has over 1.5 million subscribers – first relayed the news in a post there on May 29th. Translated to English, the message provided the following insights:
“The cryptocurrency wallet of the co-founder of the Hydra market was confiscated by court decision. The investigation suggests there are hundreds of millions of dollars in Bitcoin, but they cannot get access.
… Given the turnover of the darknet site and the percentage that its shops paid to the administration, there may be considerable wealth in the wallet. The exact amount has not yet been established as Pavlov refuses to give access.” – Mash Telegram channel
Hydra was shut down in early April as its servers were seized in a joint effort between U.S. and German law enforcement. One the same day of the seizure, the U.S. Justice Department announced the indictment of Pavlov on conspiracy charges related to the market’s operation, noting the market allowed him to “reap commissions worth millions of dollars generated from the illicit sales conducted through the site.”
Pavlov was arrested by Russian authorities on April 15th. He had previously claimed to be unaware of the charges against him and that U.S. officials had not contacted him concerning the matter. Furthermore, Pavlov stated he was simply running a “hosting company” and had all the necessary licenses required to do so. If convicted, he faces a potential sentence of 15-20 years, but will not be extradited to the U.S. as no extradition treaty exists between the two countries.
Launched quietly in 2015, Hydra was the biggest darknet market at the time of its closure, accounting for an estimated 80% of sales across all such markets. It was a Russian-language market that accepted Bitcoin only, allowed vendors to run their own “shops” within it, and catered exclusively to customers in the former Soviet Republics.