Best Known For
James "Whitey" Bulger has been on the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted list since 1999, number two, behind Osama bin Laden.
Whitey Bulger - Most Wanted (2:44)
An inside look at the life of Whitey Bulger from T.J. English, author of "Whitey's Playbook." Video courtesy of Open Road Media.
A preview of "Mobsters: James Bulger."
A preview clip from the Mobsters episode featuring James "Whitey" Bulger.
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James "Whitey" Bulger has been on the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted list since 1999, number two, behind Osama bin Laden. His life has almost exclusively devoted to crime since the age of 14. He is wanted for 19 murders, money laundering, extortion, and drug dealing. Bulger was an FBI informant for some time, tipping off the police to the Patriarca crime family while building his own crime network.
Mobster, fugitive. Born James Bulger on September 3, 1929, in Dorchester, Massachusetts. One of six children born to Roman Catholic Irish-American parents, Whitey (so-named for his white-blond hair) grew up in a South Boston public-housing project. His father worked as a longshoreman. Bulger was a troublemaker as a child, and even lived out the childhood fantasy of running away with the circus when he was ten years old.
Whitey Bulger was first arrested at age 14 for stealing, and his criminal record escalated from there. As a youth, he was arrested for larceny, forgery, assault and battery, and armed robbery and served five years in a juvenile reformatory. Upon his release, he joined the Air Force where he served time in military jail for assault before being arrested for going AWOL. Nonetheless, he received an honorable discharge in 1952.
After returning to Boston, Bulger embarked on a life of crime. His offenses grew increasingly large in scale, culminating in a string of bank robberies from Rhode Island to Indiana. In June 1956, he was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison. He ended up serving nine years, including stints in Atlanta, Alcatraz, and Leavenworth. He returned to Boston to resume his life of crime.
Bulger became an enforcer for crime boss Donald Killeen. After Killeen was gunned down in 1972, Bulger was consolidated into the Winter Hill Gang, where he quickly rose through the ranks. A shrewd, ruthless, cunning mobster, Bulger sanctioned numerous killings, including Spike O'Toole, Paulie McGonagle, Eddie Connors, Tommy King and Buddy Leonard.
By 1979, Whitey Bulger had become a preeminent figure in Boston's organized crime scene. That year, Howie Winter was sent to prison for fixing horse races, and Bulger assumed the gang's leadership. Over the next 16 years, he came to control a significant portion of Boston's drug dealing, bookmaking, and loan sharking operations. Under his reign, more than 18 murders accumulated in all.
At the same time, unbeknownst to even his closest associates, Bulger was an FBI informant. Taking advantage of his brother William's stature in the State Senate and childhood friendships that linked him to members of the police force, Bulger helped bring down Boston's Italian-American Patriarca crime family while simultaneously building a more powerful and arguably more violent crime network of his own.
In the spring of 1994, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Massachusetts State Police, and the Boston Police Department launched an investigation into Bulger's gambling operations.
Read more about Whitey Bulger. Whitey's Payback by T.J. English is available wherever books and ebooks are sold.
Included In These Groups
Bootleggers, smugglers, drug dealers, hit men—all these occupations are the provenance of mobsters, who operate in ethnic, family and business networks. Mobsters' real life crimes, and Hollywood's fascination with them, has earned them a special place in the American imagination. From Al Capone's Chicago crime ring to Bugsy Siegel's Las Vegas racket, these mobsters have made their names notorious from coast to coast.
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