EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

June 24, 2011

Mobster Bulger would have carefully planned escape

Notorious gangsters like James "Whitey" Bulger don't just launder money, loanshark, intimidate and brutally murder people. They also meticulously plan their own escape strategies, a local FBI agent explained yesterday.

"You're dealing with career criminals. They plan the crime and they also plan how they are going to get away," said Warren Bamford, a special agent in charge of the Boston FBI office who retired a year ago.

Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig, spent 16 years as fugitives before their capture Wednesday night at a California apartment building where they lived for 15 years.

Investigators found a large amount of cash and weapons stashed inside the one-bedroom Santa Monica apartment overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The couple used the aliases Charles and Carol Gasko.

Bulger and Greig went into hiding in 1995. Now, an 81-year-old man with $2 million in reward money on his head, Bulger rose to No. 1 on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list after international terrorist Osama bin Laden was killed this spring.

Bamford, a 1976 Central Catholic High School graduate who still lives in the Merrimack Valley, was very pleased but not surprised to hear Bulger was captured. Bamford led the Boston FBI from 2007 until his retirement. During those three years, Bulger was a major focus, he said.

"There are a lot of people who put a lot of work into this. The team never stopped working or looking for him ... There was always a team working on this at any given time," said Bamford.

Bamford, who now works for the private utility firm National Grid, said he was inundated with phone calls and emails yesterday morning after news of Bulger's capture went viral.

On Monday, the FBI released an ad campaign focused on Greig, 60, a blonde who frequented hair salons and former dental hygienist known to have her teeth cleaned often. Bamford was unsure if heightened publicity of Greig lead to Bulger's downfall, but said it was possible.

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