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MOBSTER.. INFORMER.. FUGITIVE.. CAUGHT; 'The Departed' gangster who shamed fbi held after 16 yrs.

Byline: RORY TEVLIN

BRUTAL Irish-American crime boss James 'Whitey' Bulger, wanted in connection with 19 murders, was finally behind bars last night after 16 years on the run.

FBI agents swooped on the fugitive and his long-term girlfriend Catherine Greig in an apartment complex in California.

Bulger, 81, who had recently replaced Osama bin Laden as the FBI's most wanted man, was found following a tip from a member of the public.

Now he is likely to die behind bars if convicted.

Bulger was the inspiration for Jack Nicholson's gangster character Frank Costello in Martin Scorsese's 2006 crime thriller The Departed.

But the FBI is not crowing about catching the man who ran Boston's criminal underworld for 20 years because he was once one of their informers.

Protected by the authorities, he got away with countless murders as he amassed a multi-million euro fortune.

Bulger, who led the Winter Hill gang, went on the run in 1995 after being warned by an FBI agent he was about to be arrested on racketeering and drug trafficking charges.

Born in 1929 to Irish immigrant parents living in Boston, his platinum blonde hair earned him the nickname Whitey. While his younger brother William went into politics, becoming the president of the state senate, Bulger took to crime. He served time in Alcatraz for bank robbery.

Then he became an enforcer for Donald Killeen, the boss of a Boston crime family, who he later murdered at a child's fourth birthday party.

After becoming second-in command of the rival Winter Hill gang, Bulger had anyone who crossed him murdered.

They included rival Tommy King, who once got the better of Bulger in a bar fight.

In 1979 he agreed to become an FBI informer. In return the bureau turned a blind eye to his crimes.

Fellow gangster Kevin Weeks described Bulger as a psychopath and a criminal mastermind.

He said: "Ninety-nine per cent of his waking hours was dedicated to crime, two per cent to pleasure.

"He stabbed people. He beat people with bats. He shot people. He strangled people. Run 'em over with cars.

"After he would kill somebody he'd be nice and calm for a couple of weeks. Like he just got rid of all his stress."

Last night Bulger appeared in a Los Angeles federal court with his girlfriend Catherine Greig and waived his right to a removal hearing.

He smiled as he was led away to be remanded to Massachusetts on charges including murder, drugs and extortion.

'WHITEY' BULGER LIFE AND CRIMES

BULGER was the leader of the infamous Winter Hill gang who dominated drugs, extortion and loan sharking in Boston for years.

HIS criminal career stems back to the 1950s when he was involved in armed robberies and spent time in the notorious Alcatraz Prison.

INVESTIGATORS say Bulger hired a hitman back in 1981 and killed tulsa businessman roger Wheeler outside the southern Hills Country Club.

DETECTIVES also believe he ordered the murder of business executive John Callahan in Florida in 1982.

His gang were the main controllers of cocaine and marijuana distribution in the Boston area in the 1980s.

IT is also alleged Bulger's gang smuggled guns to the irA in the north in the 1980s, including the gun-running ship the Marita Ann which was intercepted off the Kerry coastline.

CAPTION(S):

MOVIE MOB Nicholson as Bulger with Leo Di Caprio TARGET Mugshots on FBI's wanted list HIDEOUT Flats where he was held HEYDAY Evil Bulger in 1995 WANTED An FBI picture of James Bulger
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:1U1MA
Date:Jun 24, 2011
Words:586
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