I-Team: Ex-mob boss Whitey Bulger had Vegas ties before he was caught, killed in prison

Local News

Notorious Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, who was once one of America’s most wanted fugitives, was killed in a West Virginia prison Tuesday.  Bulger, 89, had just been moved to USP Hazelton, a high-security prison with an adjacent minimum security satellite camp in Bruceton Mills.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons online inmate log had listed Bulger as an inmate there early Tuesday morning, but by the afternoon he was no longer there.

During his 16 years on the run and on the FBI’s most wanted list, Bulger slipped in and out of Las Vegas.

Whitey Bulger was the rackets boss of South Boston for many years, directly implicated in at least 11 murders, as well as bank robberies, and many other crimes.

He’s been characterized in major motion pictures in recent years and has his own section in downtown Las Vegas at the Mob Museum, but his links to Las Vegas go deeper than that.

As the I-Team previously reported, in the late 60’s, Bulger sent two of his most feared hitmen to take care of some business on the outskirts of Las Vegas.  Steve the Rifleman Flemmi and Cadillac Frank Salemme came west with another Boston hood named Pete Poulos. Poulos was murdered in the desert in 1969.

Homicide detective Chuck Lee worked the case, but when the investigation pointed to Bulger and Boston, it was shut down by the D.A. at the time.

The I-Team spoke with a Metro Police detective in the case, in 2016. Lee has since passed away. Here’s what he had to say.

“He said, ‘I’ve got some bad news for you fellas. I’m not going to permit you to go back there.’ And I said I didn’t understand, what are you talking about. And he said ‘I’ve got the information they are working with the authorities back there,'” said Chuck Lee, Metro Homicide Detective.

Years later it was learned Bulger had been an FBI informant. In 1995, an FBI agent tipped him off about an imminent arrest, so Bulger went on the run. 

When he was finally caught in 2011 in southern California, some of the arsenal of guns in his possession were traced to Las Vegas gun shows and it is believed Bulger slipped in and out of Las Vegas during his time on the lam.   

In recent months Bulger was moved several times from one prison to a second then a third. According to some reports, the inmate suspected of killing Bulger in West Virginia has mafia ties of his own. 

Bulger was serving two life terms before his death.

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