In a bid to warn others against crimes, Cheshire Police displayed digitally aged images of gangster twins to show the public how old they’ll look when they finish their jail sentences.
Authorities toured the giant billboard around Warrington over the weekend showing the pictures of siblings Leon and Anthony Cullen, 33, in a bid to show the risks of crime.
They hope the digitally aged images of the gang bosses, who have been jailed for a combined total of 50 years, will serve as a warning to others.
Leon and Anthony are behind bars serving 22 years and 27 years respectively after leading notorious firearms and cocaine gang, which was the biggest ever uncovered in Cheshire.
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.
‘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?’
Authorities discovered the twins had a front business, called Future Press Ltd, to launder drug profits, and used violence to intimidate 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 Eastern 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.
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.
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.’