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Newly Released FBI Files Bring Probe of Whitey Bulger to Life

James “Whitey” Bulger. Photo: The Boston Police Department.

By Steve Neavling

The FBI released 300 pages of newly declassified records on Boston gangster and murderer James “Whitey” Bulger, revealing his role in loan sharking and horse fixing and how he “slapped around” an informant. 

The heavily redacted records were released to The Boston Herald as part of a Freedom of Information Act request.

In 1974, the FBI was trailing Bulger and other “different hoodlum groups in the Boston area,” the records state. According to the files, the bureau was fully aware of Bulger’s “street-thug tactics as the New England Organized Crime Strike Task Force targeted gangsters and the mafia,” The Herald reports. 

In November 1974, an FBI informant lived “in constant fear for his life” for failing to pay “debts” as ordered by the bureau. The idea was to trigger Bulger’s anger. 

The informant was “willing to testify” and consented “to be equipped with a body recorder in order to obtain corroborative evidence,” the records state. 

The files also identified New York City and Las Vegas mobsters who were part of a horse-racing scheme that involved bribing jockeys and drugging horses. 

Bulger eventually fled to elude the FBI and made the bureau’s Top Ten Most Wanted List for his involvement in 19 murders. Bulger was later tracked down to an apartment in California and sentenced to two life sentences before he was beat to death inside his prison cell in 2018.


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