How the FBI Captured Whitey Bulger

The South Boston mobster was arrested in Santa Monica after a 16-year manhunt

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FBI agents arrested South Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger last night in Santa Monica, ending a 16-year manhunt for the fugitive Winter Hill Gang leader wanted in connection with 19 murders.

The arrest comes days after the FBI unveiled a new series of public service announcements aimed to appeal to women that focused on Bulger's girlfriend and traveling partner Catherine Greig. The ads highlighted Greig's frequent visits to the dentist (she used to be a dental hygienist and got cleanings once a month) and fondness for plastic surgery. She had breast implants, a facelift and a nosejob before disappearing with Bulger (pictured above in a 1984 mug shot) just before he was indicted on racketeering charges in Boston in 1995.

So far there aren't too many details about the actual arrest itself. "Recent publicity produced a tip that led agents to a residence in Santa Monica, California, where they located Bulger and Greig Wednesday evening," said the FBI's Boston and Los Angeles field offices in a statement. The Boston Globe reports that when agents showed up at the apartment "neither resisted arrest" and that the police seized "cash and guns found hidden in the apartment." An FBI official also told the Globe that the 81-year-old Bulger "did not appear to be in good health." The FBI, which first announced the arrest via Twitter, issued a statement last night saying that the fugitives were "in custody and scheduled to appear Thursday in federal court in downtown Los Angeles."

This isn't the first time the fugitive couple has been spotted in Southern California, notes the Los Angeles Times. "In 2000, a tipster reported seeing Greig having her hair done at a salon in Fountain Valley" and "in 2005, the FBI investigated whether Bulger may have been the elderly man who robbed three Orange County banks."

When Bulger left Boston in 1995, several of his former associates were informed he was an FBI informant. As an act of retribution, they led authorities to 19 graves holding bodies of people Bulger is believed to have murdered. Bulger entered the FBI's Most-Wanted list in 1999, and the reward for information leading to his capture was recently upped to $2 million, the most ever for a domestic fugitive.

Bulger's brother William, the former president of UMass and head of the Massachusetts State Senate, whose close relationship with his brother during his fugitive days contributed to his UMass ouster, had no comment when reporters knocked on his door Thursday morning.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated Whitey Bulger's age to be 88 and the mug shot to have been from 1953.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.