The FBI confirmed Thursday that its recent spike in publicity, including commercials during daytime television shows, helped lead to the successful capture of James J. “Whitey” Bulger.
The arrest caps a 16-year global manhunt after federal authorities began targeting Bulger’s longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig, taking to the airwaves during women’s daytime television shows, including “Ellen,” “The View,” and “Live with Regis & Kelly.”
“Although there are those who doubted our resolve, it never wavered,” said Boston Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers. “We followed every lead, we explored every possibility, and when those leads ran out we did not sit back and wait for the phone to ring. The result is we have captured one of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives, a man notorious in Boston and around the world for the very serious crimes he is alleged to have committed.”
“The FBI has always relied on cooperation from the public to help capture fugitives and solve crimes. The new media campaign regarding Bulger was designed to draw attention to Greig, who fled with Bulger in 1995. A 30-second public service announcement (PSA) produced by the Bureau began airing Tuesday in 10 states where it was believed Bulger had resided or still had contacts. California was one of those states,” the FBI said in a statement.
The two are due in federal court for the Southern District of California Thursday.
Bulger, who once ran South Boston’s violent Winter Hill Gang, is charged with 19 murders and racketeering (RICO) as well as conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit extortion, narcotics distribution, conspiracy to commit money laundering, extortion and money laundering. Greig is accused of harboring him during the couple’s decade and a half long fugitive run.
And it was that focus on Greig that the FBI says led to Bulger’s downfall.
“We were trying to reach a different audience to produce new leads in the case,” said Richard Teahan, a special agent in the Boston office who leads a task force that has searched for Bulger around the world. “We believed that locating Greig would lead us to Bulger. And that’s exactly what happened.”
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