|Updated: 6/23/2011 5:52 pm
||Published: 6/23/2011 1:01 am
The FBI says one of its top ten most wanted fugitives is in custody after sixteen years on the run.
James "Whitey" Bulger and his girlfriend Catherine Greig have been captured in Santa Monica, California, near L.A.
This, just two days after the FBI began a media blitz trying to rattle cages and shake out tips about the pair's whereabouts.
Bulger, 81, and Greig, 60, were arrested without incident at an apartment that the FBI is said to have had under surveillance.
Bulger, the one-time notorious mob boss of Boston's Winter Hill Gang, has ties to 19 murders, according to the FBI. One of those murders was that of Tulsa millionaire businessman and World Jai Alai owner Roger Wheeler. In 1981, Wheeler was shot between the eyes outside of Southern Hills Country Club by hitman John Martorano, who wore a fake beard and a paper bag over his head. The FBI says Bulger orchestrated the hit, along with associate Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, because Bulger believed Wheeler would blow the whistle on a money-skimming operation at Jai Alai headquarters in Connecticut.
Bulger turned FBI informant and went on the run in January of 1995 after he was tipped off that he would be indicted.
Bulger, nicknamed "Whitey" for his shock of blond hair when he was younger, is said to have inspired Jack Nicholson's character in the Martin Scorcese film "The Departed."
Over the years, the feds have tracked numerous leads throughout the U.S. and Europe but still Bulger evaded capture until now. Bulger faces a laundry list of federal charges including murder, conspiracy, racketeering and money laundering. Greig is charged with harboring a fugitive. The two are scheduled to appear in court Thursday.
The FBI was offering a $2 million reward for information that led to Bulger's capture. It's unclear if that money will be rewarded to anyone.
As for the Wheeler murder, this is closure to a thirty year investigation that's had countless twists and turns. Hitman John Martorano was released from prison in 2007. Flemmi continues to serve a life sentence. An FBI agent, H. Paul Rico, who headed up security at World Jai Alai, was once fingered for tipping off the mobsters about Wheeler. Rico was also indicted in the Wheeler murder but died before trial.