David Zentz, Associated Press
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger was captured near Los Angeles after spending the last 16 years on the run during an epic manhunt that served as a major embarrassment to the FBI and made the fugitive a global sensation as he constantly found a way to elude authorities.
The FBI finally caught the 81-year-old Bulger Wednesday at a residence in Santa Monica along with his longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig just days after the government launched a new publicity campaign to locate the fugitive mobster, said Steven Martinez, FBI's assistant director in charge in Los Angeles. The arrest was based on a tip from the campaign, he said.
The FBI had been conducting a surveillance operation in the area where the arrest was made, said police Sgt. Rudy Flores, who gave no details of the arrest.
FBI agents still swarmed around Bulger's building late Wednesday, hours after the arrests in a neighborhood of two and three-story apartment buildings.
Bulger lived on the third floor of The Princess Eugenia, a three-story, 28-unit building of one and two-bedroom apartments three blocks from a bluff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Neighbors said the couple hadn't stood out as unusual.
Barbara Gluck lives on the same floor as Bulger and Greig. She said she didn't know their names but recognized them after she heard news of their arrest from photos on the Internet.
Gluck described Greig as "sweet and lovely" and said they would have "girl talk" when they ran into each other in the building. Bulger became angry whenever he saw the two of them talking, and would say, "Stop talking to her," Gluck said.
"He was nasty," she added.
"At one point, she (Greig) said he (Bulger) has a rage issue," Gluck said.
Bulger and Grieg were scheduled to make an appearance in Los Angeles federal court Thursday. He faces a series of federal charges including murder, conspiracy to commit murder, narcotics distribution, extortion and money laundering, while the 60-year-old Greig is charged with harboring a fugitive. He was on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list for his alleged role in 19 murders.
The arrest brings an end to a manhunt that received worldwide attention as the FBI received reported sightings of Bulger and Greig from all over the United States and parts of Europe. In many of those sightings, investigators could not confirm whether it was actually Bulger who was spotted or simply a lookalike. He has been the subject of several books and was an inspiration for the 2006 Martin Scorsese film "The Departed."
The investigation also touched the highest level of Massachusetts politics. Bulger's younger brother, William, was one of the most powerful politicians in the state, leading the Massachusetts Senate for 17 years and later serving as president of the University of Massachusetts for seven years. William Bulger told a congressional committee that he spoke to his brother shortly after he went on the run in 1995 but had no idea about his whereabouts.
Bulger, nicknamed "Whitey" for his shock of bright platinum hair, grew up in a gritty South Boston housing project, and went on to become Boston's most notorious gangster.
Along with Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, he led the violent Winter Hill Gang, a largely Irish mob that ran loan-sharking, gambling and drug rackets in the Boston area. U.S. Attorney Donald K. Stern said in 2000 that the two were "responsible for a reign of intimidation and murder that spanned 25 years."
The government has connected Bulger to a series of ruthless killings. One victim was shot between the eyes in a parking lot at his country club in Oklahoma. Another was gunned down in broad daylight on a South Boston street to prevent him from talking about the killing in Oklahoma. Others were taken out for running afoul of Bulger's gambling enterprises.
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