The head of the Boston FBI Richard DesLauriers responded Friday to public speculation that the FBI didn’t really want to find mobster James “Whitey” Bulger because he had so much dirt on the agency that could surface publicly. He called the claims “completely unfounded.”
DesLauriers, in a statement issued Friday afternoon, said:
“There has been some speculation that the FBI knew about the location of Mr. Bulger prior to the initiation of the FBI’s most recent publicity campaign regarding Catherine Greig and James J. “Whitey” Bulger. (Greig is Bulger’s girlfriend).
“To ensure that there is no misunderstanding about the FBI’s search for Mr. Bulger, I want to reiterate statements I made earlier on this matter.
“Any claim that the FBI knew Mr. Bulger’s whereabouts prior to the FBI’s publicity efforts this week are completely unfounded. When we learned his location, he was arrested promptly.”
“The FBI crafted a media plan to reach as many people as possible. As is now evident, this effort was successful and led directly to the arrest of Mr. Bulger, and highlights the importance of the public’s assistance in these matters.”
Some have suggested that Bulger has much more dirt to spill on the FBI, the result of agents using him as an informant, all while letting him get away with crimes as part of Boston’s notorious Irish mob. Bulger, who was on the lam for 16 years, was charged in 19 murders.
Other law enforcement agencies in the state complained that the FBI at the time protected Bulger, and sabotaged some of their cases. It caused strains between the FBI and some of the law enforcement agencies.
Bulger, 81, and his girlfriend Catherine Greig, who was wanted for harboring a fugitive, were captured Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif. shortly after the FBI launched a nationwide TV campaign that focused on Greig. The FBI said it received a tip on Tuesday night as a direct result of the public service announcement campaign. Agents found $800,000 in their apartment along with about 30 weapons.
On Friday, the Boston Globe’s Kevin Cullen wrote a column that may have added to the speculation about the FBI’s resolve to find Bulger.
“It was hard to find anyone in the Boston Police Department, the State Police, or the US Drug Enforcement Administration who truly believed the FBI wanted to find Bulger. He was the FBI’s prized, if highly overrated, snitch, and he had murdered many while the FBI protected him and compromised other investigations that other law enforcement agencies mounted against Bulger,” he wrote.
“Bulger used to have the FBI in his pocket; now all he has in that pocket is the potential for revenge, should he choose to exact it. He has told friends — indeed he has even told corrupt FBI agents — that the FBI reneged on their deal to let him run his venal little empire as long as he fed them crumbs on the competition.”
“The obsession with the details of Bulger’s arrest is understandable. But the bigger picture is this: there has been a carefully constructed narrative, one of damage control for the FBI and Justice Department, which is now at risk.”
Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Los Angeles, where Bulger was captured, said of the speculation questioning the FBI’s resolve:
“There’s no merit to it.”