They caught Whitey Bulger last night. He hadn’t entered my radar until a few years ago when 60 Minutes profiled his brother Billy Bulger, then president of the Massachusetts State Senate.
Like a Scorsese movie? Actually inspiration for a Scorsese movie, “The Departed.”
“Whitey.” The name evokes the image of a guy who gets chosen in early in a pick-up softball game. Not quite.
There’s the warm and fuzzy Whitey:
Bulger is an avid reader with an interest in history. He is known to frequent libraries and historic sites. Bulger may be taking heart medication. He maintains his physical fitness by walking on beaches and in parks with his female companion, Catherine Elizabeth Greig. Bulger and Greig love animals. Bulger has been known to alter his appearance through the use of disguises. He has traveled extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Canada, and Mexico. – Source: FBI wanted poster
And there’s the more methodical mobster Whitey:
James J. Bulger is being sought for his role in numerous murders committed from the early 1970s through the mid-1980s in connection with his leadership of an organized crime group that allegedly controlled extortion, drug deals, and other illegal activities in the Boston, Massachusetts, area. He has a violent temper and is known to carry a knife at all times. – Source: FBI wanted poster
That’s not why I’m writing this. That’s not what impressed me.
The FBI captured Whitey Bulger by advertising on TV! Here’s the writeup from the UK’s Guardian:
On Monday the FBI launched a fresh appeal for information on the whereabouts of the former boss of Boston’s Irish mafia. In a change of tactic the agency targeted television adverts shown during programmes watched by mainly female viewers. The FBI – which doubled the reward for the arrest of Bulger to $2m (£1.3m) last year, the largest ever for a domestic target – focused on women in their sixties.
Bulger’s long-time girlfriend, Catherine Greig, was in that demographic, and the authorities appealed to women who may have seen her in beauty salons and dentist surgeries. A dental hygienist by trade, Greig had purportedly undergone multiple plastic surgeries, frequented beauty salons and – like Bulger – loved dogs.
The FBI bought 350 TV advertising time slots and ran a 30-second appeal, fronted by Boston-based agent Richard DesLauriers. “There is someone in the United States or elsewhere in the world who knows Catherine Greig as a neighbour, friend or co-worker,” the ad began.
Seriously, they bought ads on The View, The Ellen DeGeneres Show plus a few highly targeted magazines and 48 hours later Whitey’s in the slammer after 16 years on the run. As far as I can tell this has never happened before.
A lot of people made fun of the FBI’s move including Bill O’Reilly and Rachel Maddow. They don’t often agree on anything! If I would have had enough time to consider it I might have as well.
No one’s making fun now.