- The Washington Times - Friday, July 14, 2017

A Canadian man suspected of operating an online marketplace where customers used digital cryptocurrency to buy and sell drugs and other contraband was found hanged to death in a Thai jail cell this week awaiting extradition to the United States, officials said.

Alexandre Cazes was found dead Wednesday morning inside a Bangkok jail where he was being held in relation to a U.S. narcotics case, The Bangkok Post first reported.

Cazes was recently detained in connection with an international probe involving AlphaBay, an underground website where vendors sold illegal goods ranging from hardcore drugs to stolen credit card numbers, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing individuals familiar with the matter.

He was taken into custody July 5 “with a view toward extradition to face federal criminal charges in the United States,” but died before allegations were ever made public, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok told the newspaper.

A representatives for Canada’s foreign affairs department confirmed Cazes “passed away in Thailand” but declined to comment further, according to the report.

Cazes likely hanged himself, Thai police told the Bangkok Post.

The Justice Department declined to comment Friday.

Cazes was arrested within hours of AlphaBay abruptly shuttering July 4, ending its reign as one of the dark web’s most successful underground marketplaces. Canadian officials conducted two raids in Quebec about that time in connection with a “dark web” investigation, authorities confirmed.

AlphaBay generated upwards of $800,000 worth of transactions daily before shutting down this month, earning its operators millions in annual commissions, the Journal reported.

In 2013 the Justice Department seized a similar site, Silk Road, accused of facilitating millions of dollars worth of illegal sales. Ross Ulbricht, a Texas man convicted of running the website, was subsequently convicted of eight related charges and sentenced to life in prison.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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