WHITEY & THE FBI
The talk of the 'town'
By Mitchell Zuckoff, Globe Staff, 7/23/1998
Throughout the 1980s, South Boston was thick with snitches. And a
surprising number were telling federal, state, and local authorities the same
tale: Despite pronouncements to the contrary, James ``Whitey'' Bulger was at
the financial epicenter of drug dealing on his turf.
FBI agents who were using Bulger as an informant generally ignored or
disputed the reports, perpetuating the myth that Bulger was an underworld
antidrug activist. After repeated failed attempts to nab Bulger on
drug-related charges, his 1995 indictment finally pieced together his role in
the drug-plagued ``Town.'' Here are some highlights:
In February 1981, a DEA informant known as ``C-1'' tells DEA agent Steven
Boeri that Bulger and his partner, Stephen ``The Rifleman'' Flemmi, are
muscling in on drug trafficking in Massachusetts by demanding cash payments or
a percentage of profits from drug dealers.
In June 1983, Quincy Police Detective Richard E. Bergeron reports that
confidential sources say Bulger and Flemmi are extorting drug dealers for
money. One source says they are arranging large drug deals and skimming the
In January 1984, informant ``C-2'' tells DEA agent Albert Reilly that
Bulger allows cocaine and heroin to be distributed from the Pit-Stop Bar on
Claflin Street in South Boston in exchange for protection money.
In October 1984, FBI agent Rod Kennedy tells DEA agents that two
confidential sources are talking about Bulger and Flemmi's drug connections.
One says every drug dealer in Boston -- except for two who are exempt -- pays
cash tribute to Bulger.
In August 1987 and June 1988, DEA informant ``C-1'' tells authorities
that ``Whitey Bulger gave the South Boston cocaine business to George Hogan .
. . as long as Bulger received his share of profits from the business.'' Hogan
is later indicted in a 1990 drug sweep; he pleads guilty to one count.
In November 1987, convicted narcotics dealer Patrick Perkins tells the
DEA that Bulger arranged for ``the purchase of multi-kilos of cocaine''
between Hollywood, Fla., and Boston.
If there was one consistent voice disputing the informant reports, it
belonged to John Connolly, Bulger's FBI handler.
For instance, an FBI agent from a different squad, James Blackburn,
testified recently that in the 1980s he asked Connolly about reports that
Bulger was shaking down a drug dealer named Hobart Willis. Connolly's
response? It wasn't true, Willis was ``crazy'' and wouldn't ``be worth the
aggravation.'' And so, Blackburn said, he didn't pursue the ``street talk.''
This story ran on page A17 of the Boston Globe on 07/23/1998.
© Copyright 1998 Globe Newspaper Company.