US crime boss faces trial after 16-year manhunt
Los Angeles: A judge ordered notorious mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger sent back to Boston to face trial over a string of crimes, after his arrest in California ended a 16-year international manhunt.
The 81-year-old Irish American, who is charged with 19 murders in the 1970s and 80s and inspired a Hollywood movie, was detained late Wednesday in Santa Monica where he lived under a pseudonym with his long-term girlfriend.
Police found some USD 800,000 in cash and a "fairly big arsenal" of weapons after his arrest, law enforcement sources said.
"He was ordered by the court to be transferred to Boston... to face two federal indictments" with immediate effect, deputy US attorney Robert Dugdale told reporters after a six-minute court hearing.
Bulger, one-time head of the so-called "Winter Hill" gang in Boston, fled shortly before being indicted in January 1995. He was spotted in London in 2002 and in California in 2000 and 2005, but had evaded arrest.
After he fled, it emerged that he had been a long-time FBI informant, fuelling suspicion about the agency`s fruitless efforts to find the fugitive, according to the Boston Globe newspaper.
Bulger was the inspiration for Jack Nicholson`s character in "The Departed”, the gritty 2006 crime film directed by Martin Scorsese and also starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon.
Bulger and his girlfriend Catherine Greig, 60, who were arrested on Wednesday in an apartment in Santa Monica a couple of blocks from the Pacific ocean, where they had lived for years under the pseudonyms Charles and Carol Gasko.
They confirmed their real identities at Thursday`s hearing in downtown Los Angeles, and did not apply for bail.
"Today marks the moment when James `Whitey` Bulger will finally face justice," said US Attorney Carmen Ortiz in Boston, where Bulger allegedly committed a string of crimes in the 1970s and 80s.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said a publicity campaign launched only a few days ago had generated the tip that led agents to arrest Bulger and Greig "without incident”.
The head of the FBI in Boston, Special Agent Richard Deslauriers, said "a variety of weapons, guns, and a very substantial amount of cash" were found in the apartment where the pair was detained in Santa Monica.
The LA Times cited federal law enforcement officials as saying that agents seized about USD 800,000 in cash.
Their hideout was only yards away from a popular shopping street, the Third Street Promenade, and neighbours said they had no suspicions.
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