The manhunt began with a picture posted on an encrypted messaging service that showed a hand holding a block of cheese.
It ended with a drug dealer being sent to an English prison.
Carl Stewart, a 39-year-old Liverpool resident, was sentenced to 13 years and six months last week after a guilty plea to charges against him of conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin, MDMA and ketamine and transferring criminal property, according to CBS News.
Stewart had used the service EncroChat to post a photo in which he was holding a chunk of cheese purchased from a Marks & Spencer store.
Carl Stewart’s love of cheese led police right to his door https://t.co/gBczUbScBl
— Liverpool Echo (@LivEchonews) May 21, 2021
According to CBS, Stewart did not know that police had already cracked the service’s encryption and were able to track him down, beginning with an analysis of the fingerprints in the photo.
Merseyside Police Detective Inspector Lee Wilkinson said Stewart was “caught out by his love of Stilton cheese.”
“Carl Stewart, 39, was identified through his fingerprints after police analysed the image [of a piece of cheese] he posted in an online chat.”https://t.co/rXe066Kzfn
— Olivia Solon (@oliviasolon) May 24, 2021
The arrest was part of what’s known as Operation Venetic, in which police rounded up those who were using EncroChat as a means for drug trafficking.
Merseyside Police have arrested more than 60 people as part of the operation.
One of them, Shaun Harrison, 33, has been sentenced to 10 years and eight months in jail after a guilty plea on charges of conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis.
Harrison reportedly revealed personal details on the messaging service.
“Merseyside Police, along with law enforcement agencies across the world, will leave no stone unturned in our pursuit of those people who think they are above the law, and we will continue to target anyone involved in serious organized crime to keep this positive momentum going,” Wilkinson said.
Merseyside Police said cracking the service led to identifying about 60,000 users worldwide who used the platform to coordinate drug deals.
Wil van Gemert, deputy executive director of Europol, said that breaking the encryption led to the “disruption of criminal activities including violent attacks, corruption, attempted murders and large-scale drug transports.”
Police last year reported more than 700 arrests were made across Europe after the messaging service was hacked by authorities, according to BBC News.
Police said at the time that a raid connected to the operation led to the seizure of 28 million phony valium pills.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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