On July 5, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police conducted raids at several locations in Montreal and Trois-Rivières. The RCMP Integrated Technology Crime Group executed the raids in connection with an investigation into a global network of firearm and drug trafficking on the darknet. According to an RCMP spokesperson, the investigation involved the FBI and other, global law enforcement agencies. Canadian law enforcement targeted “computer equipment” for furthering the investigation.
Alphabay disappeared alongside the unfolding raids in Montreal and Trois-Rivières. Officials declined any formal comment on the specifics of the ongoing investigation, but few doubted a connection between the Canada raids and Alphabay downtime. And although the warrants were informational only, the RCMP spokesperson said that law enforcement had already arrested a suspect in Thailand.
The identity of the Thailand suspect eluded the community for a significant period of time. But, as with the raid of unidentified servers, darknet market users knew the suspect connected to Alphabay in one way or another. DNM veterans drew their own conclusions. Alphabay loyalists refused to believe Alphabay exit-scammed. And less than one week later, much of the Alphabay chatter had died down.
But on July 12, literally one week from the RCMP raids, news from Thailand rang alarm bells in the ears of DNM users. A 26-year-old Canadian named Alexandre Cazes had taken his own life in a cell at the Narcotics Bureau in Bangkok. The FBI had requested Cazes’s arrest and extradition and Drug Enforcement Officers of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau fulfilled the FBI’s request. On July 5, officers raided three of the 26-year-old’s homes and seized at least one of his three vehicles: a Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4.
The morning of July 12, when Cazes met or had planned to meet with the US extradition lawyer, an institution officer reported the tragic end to Cazes’s life:
“A duty officer noticed a towel hanging from the toilet door in his cell about 7am, but could not see him. The officer unlocked and entered the cell and found Cazes dead near the toilet. He promptly reported the discovery to senior officers at the Narcotics Suppression Bureau and to Thung Song Hong police station for investigation. Police said Cazes was detained in the cell alone. The towel was his personal belonging and he was believed to have used it to hang himself.”
Reports spread throughout the day, as did pictures and a video of police officers removing a body bag. No official statement had been issued about the suspect’s death—only that it had been reported to the United States. Bangkok authorities vowed to have an autopsy completed. The United States conveyed that they had no interest in verifying the legitimacy of the suspect’s death.
According to reporters, Cazes fled North America seven to eight years prior. He faced a slew of drug and firearm trafficking charges. News outlets reported that he “lived like a prince during his time as a fugitive; he got married and had a child on the way; he had three houses; at least three high-end vehicles—one of which was the Aventador; and a combined asset and cash value of more than 12 million dollars. Readers of /r/darknetmarkets quickly jumped aboard the DeSnake ship. DeSnake was Alphabay’s main admin and security specialist.
Searching Alexandre Cazes on the internet yields hundreds of websites, but for verification that Canada even had a citizen named Alexandre Cazes, LinkedIn worked perfectly. Cazes’s LinkedIn profile is still online. His company’s website, however, disappeared with the Alphabay servers. Nevertheless, LinkedIn provided a skillset which pointed towards only one thing: that Cazes had the skills required to fill the role DeSnake performed.
The website is gone, but it can still be accessed (along with nearly a dozen more of his sites), for free. The Wayback Machine reveals the content of all of the websites, along with the addresses and associated phone numbers. Unsurprisingly, the business addresses were in locations searched by the RCMP on July 5. On top of that, one Reddit user explained, “the EBX company site […] was developed and had similar code to Alphabay when inspecting sources.” The data that connects Cazes to DeSnake is stacking up, despite currently being majorly circumstantial.
TVA reported that the Canadian Department of World Affairs responded in a statement, saying, “our thoughts are with family members and friends of Alexandre Cazes.” And adding that “consular officers in Ottawa and Bangkok are in communication with family members.”