BOSTON, Feb 24: He is America's most-wanted fugitive after Osama bin Laden a notorious Boston gangster with ties to corrupt federal agents and a brother who led the Massachusetts Senate for nearly 20 years.
With a 1 million dollars bounty out for his arrest, James ''Whitey'' Bulger is likely hiding in Britain, surviving on millions of dollars stashed in bank safety deposit boxes, said the author of a new book on Bulger and his criminal exploits.
''I think he will be caught,'' said Howie Carr, author of ''The Brothers Bulger,'' which hit shelves yesterdayu.
Whitey Bulger has eluded federal agents since Dececember 23, 1994, when the convicted bank robber and government informant who has been indicted for 19 murders vanished with his girlfriend and sparked a manhunt with unconfirmed sightings spanning nearly every continent from Canada to Europe, South America and the beaches of Thailand.
His Winter Hill gang has generated more than 60 convictions in about 30 cases.
Carr, a Boston print and radio journalist who has written extensively on Whitey Bulger and Boston politics for about 25 years, has a theory on how Bulger will spend his last days.
''When he is on death's doorstep, I think he'll get one of his relatives to turn him in just to get the 1 millionm dollars,'' he told Reuters in an interview. ''That would be one last final thumbing of his nose at everybody.'' For now, he says, Britain is likely home to the 76-year-old balding Boston Irishman, whose chronic halitosis once prompted Oklahoma police to pillory his ''extreme bad breath'' in their wanted poster, along with a proclivity for books, gay communities and nudist camps.
He is believed to have left the United States before the September 11 attacks, armed with a false passport and an alias.
Bostonians track Bulger much in the way obsessive Elvis fans keep pace with sightings of ''The King.'' The last confirmed Bulger sighting was in London's Piccadilly Circus in September 2002.
CRIME AND POLITICS
Carr's book examines the political and criminal culture where Bulger thrived beginning with his native Irish enclave of South Boston and tracing his criminal rise and his ties with corrupt federal agents who have since been convicted of crimes related to Bulger's gang.
He also explores how much state and city politicians knew about the Winter Hill Gang, and whether they tolerated its years of bookmaking, drug peddling, extortion and murder while Bulger's brother, William Bulger, was a dominating force in state politics as Senate president.
''About 25 years ago, I started out as a reporter covering politics. And that sort of just evolved into organized crime, because organized crime and politics were the same thing in Boston,'' said Carr.
Whitey Bulger's brother has left state politics and resigned the presidency of the University of Massachusetts in 2003 under pressure from Government Mitt Romney, who said he had not done enough in the hunt for his fugitive brother. William Bulger denies knowing his brother's whereabouts.
''I think among the retired FBI agents there are some who would not like to see him come back, but I think the people running the FBI now are interested in catching him,'' Carr said.
An FBI spokeswoman in Boston declined comment.