Cheese-loving drug dealer nabbed after posting picture, exposing his fingerprints, police say
MERSEYSIDE, England - A drug dealer’s love for cheese turned out to be his downfall after posting a picture of himself holding the food, allowing police to analyze and identify his fingerprints, according to authorities.
Merseyside Police in England said they tracked down Carl Stewart, 39, after he shared a close-up picture of him holding a block of Stilton cheese. He sent the picture over an encrypted network that police had been monitoring as part of a larger effort to nab suspected drug dealers called "Operation Venetic."
Police said they found Stewart’s picture and closely examined his palm.
"His palm and fingerprints were analysed from this picture and it was established they belonged to Stewart," Detective Inspector Lee Wilkinson said in a news release.
Wilkinson said Stewart "was caught out by his love of Stilton cheese."
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Stewart, of Liverpool, England, was sentenced to 13 years and six months in prison Friday after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin, MDMA, ketamine and transferring criminal property.
Authorities said he did much of his criminal work on an EncroChat phone, using the handle, "Toffeeforce." It was the same device he used to upload the cheese picture.
EncroChat is a highly encrypted network used by criminals around the world, according to Sky News.
According to authorities, nearly 60,000 users of EncroChat have been identified worldwide, with about 10,000 of them in the United Kingdom. Police said users are involved in drug and weapon dealings, money laundering and other criminal activity.
"As part of Operation Venetic, Merseyside Police has so far arrested more than 60 people, many of whom have been charged with serious drug trafficking or firearms offenses," Wilkinson said.
"This should serve as a stark warning to anyone involved in this criminality that there are serious consequences," he continued.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.