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The Arrest Of 'Whitey' Bulger, Boston's Response48:54
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Archived image of Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger's FBI mugshot (Courtesy)
Archived image of Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger's FBI mugshot (Courtesy)

They got him.

After 16 years on the run, Boston-born fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger is in custody and on his way back to Boston to face federal charges of extortion, racketeering and murder.

Bulger was on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. After a long and often fruitless investigation, FBI agents finally apprehended him — and his companion, Catherine Greig — in Santa Monica, California Wednesday night.

The FBI says the arrests came from a tip after the bureau began airing TV spots this week. That tip led agents to an apartment in Santa Monica where they believed Bulger and Greig were living. Special agent Richard Deslauriers, speaking this morning at FBI headquarters in Boston, said that agents, "using a ruse lured Mr. Bulger out of his apartment. He was placed under arrest without incident. Agents then went back into the apartment and arrested Mrs. Grieg without incident."

James 'Whitey' Bulger was on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. After a long and often fruitless investigation, FBI agents finally apprehended him — and his companion, Catherine Greig — in Santa Monica, California Wednesday night.

The arrest of Whitey Bulger ends one of the longest criminal manhunts in recent years. It also represents a major victory for the FBI, whose reputation had been badly damaged by its close association with Bulger — and by its long and frustrating search for him.

But the story of Whitey Bulger and the FBI is a complicated one.

Part of the story is how the FBI Boston bureau mishandled confidential informants in the 1970s and 80s. It was a misguided effort to penetrate organized crime that turned one FBI agent into a criminal, and allowed a gangster and alleged serial murderer to escape justice for 16 years.

The scandal in Boston grew out of an FBI plan to recruit key underworld figures to help the bureau crack the Italian mafia. In Boston that lead to a deal between a home-grown FBI agent, John Connolly, and Bulger.

Connolly protected Bulger and his loan sharking and drug running operation. When Bulger was about to be arrested, Connolly tipped him off and allowed him to escape. Among Bulger's alleged crimes — 19 murders, most of them allegedly committed while he was an FBI informant. Connolly was convicted of helping Bulger escape and sent to jail, where he remains today.


What's your reaction? What does it tell you about crime and justice in Boston and the U.S.? What questions do you have about the case? Start the conversation below.

Guests:

  • David Boeri, Senior Reporter, WBUR
  • Richard Lehr, Professor of Journalism at Boston University; Author of Black Mass: The Irish Mob, The FBI and a Devil’s Deal
  • Michael Patrick McDonald, Author of All Souls: A Family Story From Southie, author in residence at Northeastern University
  • Michael Sullivan, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts from 2001-2009, Partner at the Ashcroft Law Firm

This program aired on June 23, 2011.

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