How The FBI Finally Caught James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, The Inspiration For ‘The Departed’

For sixteen years notorious Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger has been in hiding, inspiring a Martin Scorsese film along the way, leaving many to wonder if he’d ever be brought in to face charges of being involved with a number of murders (For a chilling primer on Bulger, watch this 60 Minutes report, along with this one). Late last night in Santa Monica, California, the FBI finally brought in the guy portrayed by Jack Nicholson in “The Departed” — who’d been #1 on the agency’s most wanted list until Osama Bin Laden came along and knocked him out of the top spot in September 2001. For more than a decade, Bulger had a $2 million bounty on his head, the most the government has ever offered for a domestic fugitive.

So how did they catch him?

By focusing on his longtime girlfriend. After years of focusing on finding Bulger himself, the FBI recently decided to shift its focus to finding the longtime girlfriend who’s been on the run with him, figuring that she could lead them to him. They believed that her love of stepping out — to go shopping, get her nails and hair done, get her face lifted, etc. — might lead her to be more noticeable by the general public. So they started running TV ads and distributing fliers all across the country using computer-enhanced images showing what Catherine Greig might look like today. And it worked.

The plan also focused on agents distributing fliers to dentists and plastic surgeons across the country, as Greig was known to be obsessive about her teeth prior to disappearing in the 90s, going in for cleanings once a month. And she also wasn’t shy about going under the knife to enhance her looks, apparently.

Interestingly, it was an effort that was mocked on Tuesday by Boston Herald columnist Peter Gelzinis.

After 16 years, the FBI’s search for Whitey Bulger has now come down to 30-second WANTED posters on “Regis & Kelly,” “The View” and the “Rachael Ray Show.” What’s next? Whitey’s face on stool softeners, adult diapers and embolism socks?

Yesterday, the G-Men formalized their cluelessness in the Bulger quest by unveiling “a unique new publicity campaign” to find Whitey by finding Cathy Greig … So, after all this time in the fugitive mist, the sons of J. Edgar Hoover have stumbled upon the brilliant idea of targeting Whitey’s 60-year-old, baby boomer paramour — the former dog groomer and dental hygienist, Catherine Elizabeth Greig.

Since Cathy Greig has been on the run with Whitey for just about all of these last 16-plus years, one could ask, why did the G-Men wait until now to pay any attention to Cathy?

There’s no answer to that question. At least not one that makes any sense. Richard Teahan, the special agent in charge of the Bulger fugitive task force, did admit that gumshoes have spent (or squandered) most of their time on Bulger.

Now, apparently, it’s dawned on them that if they locate the woman who probably buys Whitey’s laxatives, wheat germ and vitamins … they might stumble upon the White Man himself.

Why they didn’t come up with stroke of genius 10 years ago you ask? Who knows.

You know what — he’s got a valid point. But regardless, they came to their senses and in a span of just a few weeks, the Feds have taken down Osama Bin Laden and Whitey Bulger, the two most wanted men in America. Dudes should pour themselves a glass or two of some really good bourbon.