The Coast Guard helicopter that flew James J. “Whitey Bulger” to his recent federal court appearance costs more than $11,000 per hour to operate.
In a statement, the U.S. Marshals Service defended its use of the military aircraft to transport the gangster.
“It is not uncommon for the U.S. Marshals Service to use the resources of other law enforcement agencies to assist in their mission of providing safe and secure movements of federal detainees,” The Marshals and Coast Guard said in the statement. “The Coast Guard helicopter involved routinely conducts law enforcement activities and the aircraft and crew involved was scheduled to fly a law enforcement mission on the day in question – whether or not it participated in the prisoner transfer – and the costs expended on June 30 were no different whether or not the Coast Guard assisted the Marshals Service.”
Bulger was flown from Plymouth County Jail to Logan International Airport Thursday and then driven in a convoy to US District Court in South Boston. He was flown back to jail in the same helicopter.
The helicopter was a MH-60 Jayhawk. It costs $11,251 in personnel wages and benefits, fuel, maintenance and other expenses in order to fly it for one hour, the Coast Guard said.
According to the Marshals, the Thursday trip took 40 minutes and used 300 gallons of fuel, worth $1,500.
That cost falls “within the normal operating budgets for both agencies,” according to the statement.