After 16 years on the lam James ‘Whitey’ Bulger from the Irish, Boston neighborhood of Southie has been captured. Local’s reactions in the South Boston Irish American community was one of utter surprise after authorities nabbed 81-year-old gangster, wanted in connection for 19 murders, in South California.
Kevin Stuart (71) said “You’ve got to be kidding. CAUGHT!..Around here, he’s as big of a deal as bin Laden.” Stuart spoke to Bloomberg from Mul’s Diner in the Irish American community of Southie.
“He was a pretty lucky guy, really, to get away with it for so long… The real question is whether or not he rolls over on anyone. The bet on the street is no. He’s an old guy, there’s no real reason he needs to do that” said Michael Dore (47) who works at the South Boston Community Health Center.
Tom Tracy (72) has lived in the neighborhood since 1970 and was an acquaintance of Bulger. He said the image that Bulger had tried to cultivate, that of a champion of the working class was a false one. He said “None of this Robin Hood stuff you hear is true.”
He also believes that Bulger will not be of any help to the FBI. He added “He probably already has an escape plan.”
Rob Alexander (33) said “There was a lot of folklore that surrounded him…He brought a lot of drama.”
What seems obvious in Southie is that the folklore of Bulgers as a gangster is deep rooted. Many of the interviewees refused to give their names. One woman said “I’ve got sons. I don’t want to get them in any trouble when they’re running around out there.”
Alexander added “Most people don’t like him down here,” Alexander said. “But they respected him because they feared him.”
Bulger was at the top of the FBI’s Most Wanted list and was wanted in connection with 19 murders. The government described him as a “major organized-crime figure from South Boston.”
On Wednesday night he and his 60-year-old girlfriend Catherine Greig were apprehend at their apartment following a tip. This tip came just one week after the FBI launched a daytime TV advert campaign in an effort to gather information.
According to the government Bulger worked as an informant for the Government in the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1995 he was indicted for racketeering violations he was then indicted for several murders.
Internationally Bulger became a household name with the release of Martin Scorsese’s 2006 movie “The Departed”. The hugely successful movie was set in Southie and featured a Bulger-like character played by Jack Nicholson.