The Ingenious Takedown of Hansa Market: A Masterclass in Cyber Policing


Published on Sep 14, 2023   —   2 min read

In the ever-evolving landscape of cybercrime, the takedown of Hansa Market in 2017 stands as a watershed moment. Orchestrated by the Netherlands' National High Tech Crimes Unit (NHTCU), this operation was not just a shutdown but a takeover that lasted nearly a month. The operation showcased a perfect blend of traditional policing and cutting-edge cyber expertise. Let's delve into the details and understand the implications of this landmark operation.

The Perfect Blend of Old and New

The NHTCU's approach to the Hansa Market takedown was a blend of traditional policing and modern cyber expertise. For nearly a month, the team not only shut down the dark web market but took it over, setting up cyber traps and gathering invaluable intelligence. This synergy between 'boots-on-the-ground' officers and cyber specialists has set a precedent for future cybercrime investigations.

The Game-Changing Ethos

Matthijs van Amelsfort, the head of the NHTCU, emphasized the importance of being "game-changers" in combating cybercrime. The unit aims to incorporate new, innovative elements in every investigation, thereby enhancing their knowledge and staying ahead of cybercriminals.

The Structure of Success

One of the key factors contributing to the success of the NHTCU is its flat organizational structure. This allows for a more collaborative environment where technical and tactical specialists can work together without much hierarchical interference. The unit focuses on recruiting individuals who are willing to learn from each other, thereby creating a culture of continuous improvement.

The Cyber Offender Prevention Squad (COPS)

The NHTCU has also initiated a program called the Cyber Offender Prevention Squad (COPS). This program aims to deter young individuals from venturing into cybercrime by issuing warnings for activities that could be considered illegal, such as searching for methods to launch DDoS attacks.

The International Dimension

Cybercrime knows no borders, and the NHTCU is well aware of this. Collaboration with international partners like the United States, Europol, and Interpol is crucial for combating global cyber threats.


The takedown of Hansa Market by the Netherlands' National High Tech Crimes Unit serves as a case study in effective cyber policing. It demonstrates the power of combining traditional policing methods with advanced cyber capabilities to tackle complex cybercrimes. As we move forward in this digital age, such collaborative efforts will be vital in keeping a step ahead of cybercriminals.

Share on Facebook Share on Linkedin Share on Twitter Send by email

Subscribe to the newsletter

Subscribe to the newsletter for the latest news and work updates straight to your inbox, every week.