This Piece of Cheese Helped Bring Down a Drug Dealer

Carl Stewart's photo of him holding a block of Stilton allowed UK police to lift his prints
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 25, 2021 7:19 AM CDT
Drug Dealer's Downfall: His Apparent Love of Cheese
Carl Stewart, apparent cheese lover.   (Merseyside Police, via Liverpool Echo)

If evading police was the goal, Carl Stewart seemed to be doing everything right. The UK drug dealer used an encrypted phone system called EncroChat—one favored by organized crime in Europe—to carry out his surreptitious communications, and he adopted the handle "Toffeeforce" to do business, selling heroin and cocaine, among other illicit substances. His downfall, however, wasn't a kilo of his wares: It was a block of "delicately rich and creamy" blue cheese. The 39-year-old from Liverpool had taken a picture of himself in what appeared to be a supermarket, holding a block of Stilton in his palm, and broadcast it in one of his messages—and the police were able to take that photo, lift his prints from it, track him down, and arrest him, per the Liverpool Echo.

"Carl Stewart was involved in supplying large amounts of class A and B drugs, but was caught out by his love of Stilton cheese," Detective Inspector Lee Wilkinson of the Merseyside Police said in a release. The Verge notes Stewart made two major blunders: posting the pic in the first place—the outlet notes fingerprints have been lifted before from photos—and using EncroChat, which authorities infiltrated in March 2020, intercepting millions of supposedly encrypted messages. The Merseyside Police note that about 60,000 EncroChat users have been IDed around the globe, "all involved in coordinating and planning the supply and distribution of drugs and weapons, money laundering, and other criminal activity." Stewart pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to supply heroin, cocaine, ketamine, and MDMA, as well as a charge of transferring criminal property, and was sentenced Friday to more than 13 years in prison. (More weird crimes stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.