Canadian ‘dark web’ suspect found dead in Thai police cell
The computer programmer faced drug trafficking and money laundering charges in the US
A Thai officer confirmed Alexandre Cazes was accused of being an ’operator’ of a major online black market. File photograph: Bill Hinton/Moment/Getty
A 26-year-old Canadian found dead in his Thai police cell this week was wanted in the US for allegedly running a massive “dark web” marketplace for drugs and other contraband, a police source said on Saturday.
But the computer programmer hanged himself with a towel in his detention cell a week later on July 12th, according to Thai anti-narcotics police, who have been tight-lipped on the details of his case.
On Saturday, a Thai officer confirmed Mr Cazes was accused of being an “operator” of a major online black market.
“It’s a huge dark web market that trafficks drugs and sells other illegal stuff,” the police officer said, requesting anonymity.
Speculation is rife that the underground marketplace was AlphaBay, considered the world’s largest and most lucrative darknet bazaar until it was taken down within hours of Mr Cazes’ arrest.
Like its predecessor Silk Road, which was shut down by the FBI in 2013, AlphaBay used the encrypted Tor network and virtual currencies like Bitcoin to shield customers from detection.
It was “more than twice as big as Silk Road was in its heyday, with a revenue of somewhere between 600,000 and 800,000 dollars a day in early 2017, and that’s a rather conservative estimate,” he said.
He slipped into the country around eight years ago, according to police.
“He was a computer expert involved with international transactions of Bitcoins,” said major general Soontorn Chalermkiat, a spokesman for Thailand’s Narcotics Suppression Bureau.
“He didn’t have any business in Thailand but he had many houses,” the officer said, adding that Mr Cazes’ Thai wife has since been charged with money laundering.
The US Embassy in Bangkok refused to comment on the details of the case, saying only that Mr Cazes was detained at the request of the US “with a view toward extradition to face federal criminal charges”.
The founder of Silk Road - the world’s first and most famous digital drug market - was sentenced to life in prison by federal court in New York in 2015.