Thousands of copies of the Braintree edition of the Essex Chronicle had to be withdrawn from sale after the paper used a picture of an innocent man alongside a story about a convicted drug-dealer.
It is believed that a reporter at the Northcliffe title found the picture on Facebook and wrongly identified the individual as 21-year-old Alexander Rudd of Rare Avenue, Witham, who was jailed for three years for dealing in thousands of pounds worth of class A drugs.
The picture was in fact of another Alexander Rudd who lives in the same area.
Around 3,000 copies of the edition were printed and efforts have been made to withdraw all unsold copies from sale.
In an apology published online on Friday the paper said: "In some copies of yesterday’s paper we published a report about the jailing of Alexander Rudd of Yare Avenue, who was found guilty of drug dealing.
“The report was illustrated with a picture of a man also called Alexander Rudd, aged 23, but who is entirely innocent of any offence. We apologise to the innocent Mr Rudd for our error and for any distress caused to him or to his family.”
The error is believed to have cost the paper as much as £10,000 aside from any possible legal fees.
The paper is currently going through a round of redundancies.
In September Northcliffe announced it was axing 38 editorial jobs across Northcliffe South East including four at Essex Chronicle Media Group.
Northcliffe South East editorial director Alan Geere left his job in September and has not been replaced.
Following his departure Brentwood Gazette editor Nev Wilson was made editor in charge of Essex Chronicle Media Group and the shake-up saw Paul Dent Jones promoted to the job of Essex Chronicle editor.