A drug dealer was caught out by police when he posted an innocuous photo of himself holding a block of cheese.

By Alex Chapman

Carl Stewart, 39, was identified by Merseyside Police in the UK when he shared the photo to an online forum.

Stewart was identified after he shared an image of a block of cheese in the palm of his hand, and his fingerprints were analyzed from the image

Detectives had cracked the encrypted group and were closely watching Stewart, who posted under the handle Toffeeforce, over suspicions of drug dealing.

Carl Stewart was identified after sharing an image of a block of cheese in the palm of his hand. (Police)

They had been waiting for him to slip up when he posted the photo of the cheese.

Unbeknownst to him, police were able to analyze the fingerprints in the photo and identify him.

Stewart used EncroChat to supply large amounts of class A and B drugs under the online pseudonym “Toffeeforce”, a reference to the Everton football club.

He was identified after sharing an image of a block of cheese in the palm of his hand
Credit: merseyside.police.uk

According to the National Crime Agency, EncroChat was used “exclusively by criminals” to carry out criminal activity including drug and weapons dealing, as well as money laundering. About 60,000 users of EncroChat have been identified worldwide, with about 10,000 of them in the UK.

Stewart is not the first British criminal to be identified from a picture of his hands.

Carl Stewart was sentenced to 13 years and six months in prison
Credit: merseyside.police.uk

In 2010, Stephen Taylor was sentenced to 10 months for handling stolen goods after officers found a photograph on his phone of him holding rare, stolen watches.

Forensics officers enhanced the image, which allowed a fingerprint specialist to identify Taylor from the ridges in his hands.

In 2018, South Wales police secured 11 convictions after an image of a man holding ecstasy tablets in his palm were sent out to potential customers by a dealer in Bridgend.

DI Lee Wilkinson said: “Carl Stewart was involved in supplying large amounts of class A and B drugs, but was caught out by his love of stilton cheese, after sharing a picture of a block of it in his hand through EncroChat.

His palm and fingerprints were analysed from this picture and it was established they belonged to Stewart.”

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