Police displayed digitally-aged images of the ‘Cheshire Kray’ twins on billboards to show how old the gangsters will look when they finish their jail sentences.
Cheshire Police toured a giant billboard around Warrington on Saturday showing the pictures of siblings Leon and Anthony Cullen, 33, in a bid to show the risks of crime.
They hope the images of the gang bosses, who have been jailed for a combined total of 50 years, depicting how they old they will be after their sentences will serve as a warning to others.
Leon and Anthony are behind bars serving 22 years and 27 years respectively after leading a notorious firearms and cocaine gang, which was the biggest ever uncovered in Cheshire.
Cheshire Police toured a giant billboard (above) around Warrington showing digitally-aged pictures of siblings Leon and Anthony Cullen, 33, in a bid to show the risks of crime
The gangster twins are nicknamed the ‘Cheshire Krays’ as, like the notorious 1960s London criminals, they were also caged in their early 30s for running a 20-strong gang involving weapons, violence and intimidation.
Cheshire Police’s Det Chief Insp Mike Evans said they hope the ‘aged’ images will make others ask if crime ‘really worth it’, rather than having young people ‘look up to them’.
He continued: “People may think it’s a quick and easy way to earn money to lead a lavish lifestyle but that is far from the reality.
“The consequences of being involved in the supply of drugs and firearms are worlds away from that.
“Instead you become embroiled in violence and debt and are constantly looking over your shoulder.
“Leon and Anthony will leave prison a lot older, they will miss out on being around their family.
Police hope the images of the twins (above: Leon Cullen), who have been jailed for a combined total of 50 years, depicting how they old they will be after jail will serve as a warning to others.
Leon and Anthony (left, now, and right, ‘aged’ image) are behind bars serving 22 years and 27 years respectively after leading a notorious firearms and cocaine gang
“They will be under constant watch by the authorities when released and always paying back what they profited. Young men will at one time have looked up to them.
“But now we want them to look at them in a different light and see the true reality of where organised crime takes you. Is it really worth it?”
The twins had a front business, called Future Press Ltd, to launder drug profits, and used violence to intimidate and exert control over those they believed had crossed them, as well as to enforce debts.
Detectives believe that more than 50kg of cocaine was supplied by the gang across Cheshire, North Wales and the North East between June 2016 and January 2018.
Officers seized £205,680 cash and more than two kilos of cocaine during a series of strikes as part of an 18-month covert investigation, Operation Samurai.
In 2017, the brothers also started supplying an arsenal of weapons – boasting an AK47 machine gun, a pump-action shotgun, automatic pistols and revolvers.
The Cullens’ operation saw the brothers and their associates – Chris Houghton, Sean Ryan, Jason Eastens and Michael Mason – using firearms to protect themselves and intimidate others.
At least one of their firearms was previously used in a shooting in Liverpool back in August 2015.
Leon, of Orford, Warrington, fled the UK in January 2018 after detectives laid bare the brothers’ criminal enterprise.
He was detained on an international arrest warrant in Dubai in January 2020 after detectives from the Serious and Organised Crime Unit uncovered his false identity.
Officers seized £205,680 cash and more than two kilos of cocaine during a series of strikes as part of an 18-month covert investigation. Pictured: Some of the cash seized from the gang
He was extradited from the United Arab Emirates and brought back to Cheshire in February 2021.
Meanwhile, his twin brother Anthony was arrested in January 2018 – along with 19 of his and Leon’s associates.
In January 2019, all 20 of the gang, without on-the-run Leon, were jailed for a total of 185 years – 27 of which were given to Anthony Cullen.
Anthony Cullen admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis, and was convicted of conspiracy to possess for sale or transfer prohibited firearms and ammunition.
On May 14, Leon was jailed at Liverpool Crown Court for 22 years and six months after admitting conspiracy to supply firearms, conspiracy to possess ammunition and conspiracy to supply cocaine.
Det Chief Insp Evans added: “The Cullen brothers have been a driving force for organised crime in Warrington for many years.
“However there was only one way they were headed and that was always going to be behind bars serving significant sentences.”