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The head of an organised crime group in Warrington has pleaded guilty to firearm and drug offences.
Leon Cullen, previously of Honister Avenue in Orford, admitted to conspiracy to supply firearms, conspiracy to possess ammunition and firearms and conspiracy to supply cocaine at Liverpool Crown Court today (Friday 19 March).
The 33-year-old became one of Cheshire Constabulary’s most wanted men when he fled the country on 10 January 2018.
The same time his deputy twin brother Anthony and 19 of their associates were arrested following warrants executed by detectives from the Serious and Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).
A year later Cullen’s organised crime group were jailed for a total of 185 years - Anthony was given a 27 year sentence.
The influential organised crime group instilled fear and intimidation into the local community in Warrington.
The criminal gang were at or very near ‘the top of the tree’ in the scale of their drug dealing – made large cash profits as they supplied cocaine and cannabis in Warrington, Winsford and Bangor. It is also believed that they had links with the North East.
Their supply of illegal drugs raked in up to £290,000 profit per month, and was ‘risky and often nasty’ as Anthony, along with Chris Houghton, Sean Ryan, Jason Eastens and Michael Mason, began using firearms to protect themselves and intimidate others.
In total Cheshire Constabulary seized 3 1/4kg of cocaine and £205,680.00 in cash during the 18-month investigation - codenamed Operation Samurai. Cullen and his associates are believed to have supplied over 50kg of cocaine across the North West.
Five guns including ammunition were recovered hidden in the loft of an address on Rylands Drive, Warrington.
A further gun was found along with two bullets in a wicker basket at the foot of a bed to be immediately available if needed.
They included a functioning AK-series rifle, a pump-action shotgun, automatic pistols and revolvers as well as a silencer to be fitted to one of the automatic handguns.
The guns were used to threaten rival drug dealing gangs and scare those who owed money and were also made available for hire, loan or sale to other criminals.
An international manhunt led to Cullen being detained in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 3 January 2020.
He was extradited and brought back to Cheshire on 19 February 2021.
Cullen will be sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court on 14 May 2021.