Firearms and drugs criminal Leon Cullen ordered to pay back money he earned committing serious and organised crime
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The leader of a criminal gang who evaded police before being captured in the United Arab Emirates has been ordered to pay back his ill-gotten gains.
Leon Cullen, from Warrington, was found to have profited almost £350,000 from the supply of firearms, ammunition and cocaine between 1 June 2016 to 11 January 2018.
The 33-year-old was detained on an international arrest warrant in Dubai on 3 January 2020 after evading police over a two-year period by using a false passport.
A Rolex watch valued at £23,000 and £4,830 of money were seized from his possession by police when he was detained.
The judge ordered a total of £22,830.38 to be paid back at the hearing.
Following extradition proceedings he returned to the United Kingdom on 19 February 2021 and admitted to being part of the criminal network alongside his twin brother Anthony.
A hearing held at Liverpool Crown Court on Monday 8 August 2022 also led Cullen to be handed a Serious Crime Prevention Order (SCPO).
The order means he will be robustly monitored when he leaves prison after serving his 22 years and six-month sentence.
The SCPO bans Cullen from associating with the men who were part of his organised crime group.
He must inform Cheshire Constabulary of any vehicles and communication devices he owns or uses and must tell the police where he is living and working and of any bank accounts he uses.
The SCPO, which will be imposed for five years from his prison release date, also restricts him to only owning two computers and two mobile phones at any time.
Cullen was convicted as part of Operation Samurai, a covert investigation into a business that centred on supplying firearms, ammunition and cocaine to organised crime groups across the North West.
Leon would operate using violence in order to intimidate and exert control towards those he believed had crossed him as well as to enforce debts.
In July 2017 Leon turned his attention to the supply of firearms and became in direct contact with an associate in Liverpool to transfer hand guns and ammunition.
He had ultimate control and direction of a functioning AK-series rifle, a pump-action shotgun, automatic pistols and revolvers as well as a silencer that was fitted to one of the automatic handguns complete with ammunition.
At least one of the firearms – a self-loading pistol – had been used in a shooting at a house on Rose Avenue in Liverpool on 20 August 2015. A round was fired into the living room while the occupant was inside.
His organised crime group consisting of 20 men including his brother were jailed for a total of 185 years in January 2019. Anthony was given a 27-year sentence.
Detective Inspector Rob Balfour, from the Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said: “The criminal activity run by the Cullen’s has earned them, and others at the top end of the organised crime group, a considerable amount of money from which they have lived a lavish lifestyle for a short time.
“We will keep utilising this legislation so not only do criminals have to complete lengthy sentences, their earned assets are removed and their lives post sentence are effected by further financial restrictions until they have literally paid their debt to society.
“I think the public expect us to recover ill-gotten gains and rightly so. They don’t want to see drug dealers profiting from their criminality and it is only right that we recover what we can.
“It’s important to highlight the powers of the Proceeds of Crime Act and SCPOs to help deter and prevent criminals from returning to organised crime but also to young men who look up to and are influenced by people like Leon.”