Alexandre Cazes, the alleged co-founder of AlphaBay, a dark web drug- and weapon-trafficking site, has been found dead in the Bangkok Thailand Narcotics Suppression Bureau jail cell where he was being held. Cazes, 26, a native of Quebec, Canada, was due to meet with prosecutors intent on extraditing him to the United States to face charges when his body was found. Cazes was known online as DeSnake.
According to The Independent, Thai authorities have determined that Cazes likely took his own life. Police Major General Surasak Khunnarong added that surveillance camera footage showed no sign of physical assault.
Cazes’ father, Martin Cazes, told Canoe that he found it hard to believe that his son would commit suicide. He described his son as “an extraordinary young man, with no history, no judicial record. He never smoked a cigarette, never used drugs,” and says that he can’t believe that his son would manage to kill himself under police surveillance. He hopes that autopsy results will tell a different story.
Cazes was being held by the Thai Narcotics Suppression Bureau at the request of the United States, who intended to extradite him to face federal charges in relation to AlphaBay, which, according to WIRED, was brought down last week in a massive, multinational operation. While Canadian police raided and shut down AlphaBay’s Canadian servers, Bangkok authorities arrested Cazes in one of his three Thai homes. Thai authorities indicated that Cazes had essentially slipped into the country some eight years ago. He would have been 18 at the time. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) also raided a residence in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, searching for further evidence.
Cazes, although not a Thai citizen, was allegedly living a life of luxury in the country. He owned three homes in Thailand, four cars, including a Lamborghini, and was married to a Thai woman — who has since been charged with money laundering. According to Nicolas Christin, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, AlphaBay was at “a conservative estimate” making some $600,000 to $800,000 daily.
AlphaBay had essentially taken the place of the Silk Road, a previous dark web site specializing in contraband, which was shut down by the FBI in 2013. In 2015, Silk Road’s founder, Ross William “Dread Pirate Roberts” Ulbricht, was convicted of eight federal charges by a Manhattan federal court and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Meanwhile, U.S. officials began the process to extradite Cazes to face trial. Just an hour before that process was to get underway, Cazes was found hanged in his cell. Cazes was obviously aware of his predecessor’s fate in the U.S. court system, and it is theorized that he preferred to take his own life rather than spend it in jail.
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