A drug dealer’s penchant for fancy cheese resulted in his downfall after police were able to identify him based on a photo he shared on what he believed to be an encrypted messaging service.
Carl Stewart, 39, of Liverpool, was sentenced Friday to 13 years and six months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin, MDMA and ketamine, as well as transferring criminal property. Authorities were able to nab Stewart after confirming his identity by analyzing an image he posted of himself holding a block of mature blue cheese on EncroChat, and analyzing the fingerprints in the photo.
“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,” Detective Inspector Lee Wilkinson said in a statement. “His palm and fingerprints were analysed from this picture and it was established they belonged to Stewart.”
Last July, BBC News reported that the UK’s National Crime Agency managed to gain access to EncroChat, an encrypted communication service used by an estimated 60,000 people to transport drugs, launder money, devise murderous plots, among other criminal activities. NCA’s infiltration of the system, which was capable of deleting all data on a phone by pressing a four-digit code and causing messages to automatically self-destruct over a certain period of time, has led to over 800 arrests across Europe.
Clearly that app isn’t as encrypted as people think.