James 'Whitey' Bulger, Boston mob kingpin, found dead in federal prison: reports

James “Whitey” Bulger — who ruled Boston’s criminal underworld for a quarter-century, stayed on the run for 16 years and then spent the last years of his life in a high-security federal prison — has died, The Boston Globe and NBC News report. He was 89.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons had transferred Bulger from a Florida prison to a high-security penitentiary in West Virginia after a brief stop at a transfer site in Oklahoma City. He was listed as an inmate at USP Hazelton as of Tuesday morning, according to The Boston Globe. Within hours, reports emerged that he had been found dead and the Globe reported that he had been killed

The BOP and USP Hazelton did not immediately respond to requests for confirmation.

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BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 6: University of Massachusetts President William Bulger, brother of fugitive Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger, is sworn in before a congressional committee lead by U.S. Rep. Dan Burton, chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform probing ties between FBI agents and mob informants, at Suffolk Superior Court House December 6, 2002 in Boston, Massachusetts. Bulger refused to answer any of the committee's questions citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The panel wanted to question Bulger about his brother James 'Whitey' Bulger, a notorious gang leader wanted in connection with 21 murders. 'Whitey' Bulger was also a valued informant who provided the FBI with information about New England cells of the Italian Mafia. (Photo by Douglas McFadd/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JANUARY 2: Two Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) artist composite images of fugitive James 'Whitey' Bulger are shown in this handout photo released by the FBI January 2, 2003 in Washington, DC. Bulger is on the FBI's top ten most wanted fugitive list for crimes related to his involvement with the Mafia, specifically on charges of racketeering, extortion and drug trafficking. Bulger has also been charged with being involved in the murders of 21 people. (Photo by FBI/Getty Images)
View of the door of the appartment 303 of the Princess Eugenia building in Santa Monica, California, on June 23, 2011, where James 'Whitey' Bulger was arrested June 22. The FBI finally caught the 81-year-old Bulger who was living for more than 10 years, with his longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig, under the names of Charles and Carol Gasko, on the third floor of the Princess Eugenia, a three-story, 28-unit building of one- and two-bedroom apartments near the ocean in Santa Monica. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JUNE 19: Mary Bulger, wife of William Bulger, listens as her husband testifies before the House Government Reform Committee on Capitol Hill June 19, 2003 in Washington, DC. Bulger is the brother of James 'Whitey' Bulger, an organized crime figure on the FBI's ten most-wanted list. The committee held the hearing to investigate the use of informants by the Justice Department. (Photo by Stefan Zaklin/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 23: Mary Prang, Special Agent wit the FBI, adjusts a poster featuring fugitives Boston crime boss James 'Whitey' Bulger along with his companion Catherine Greig before a news conference by Steven Martinez, FBI assistant director in charge in Los Angeles, to discuss the arrest of Bulger and Greig at the Los Angeles Federal Building on June 23, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The FBI announced June 23, 2011 that Bulger was captured in his home in Santa Monica, California by the FBI after a 26-year manhunt when a tip lead law enforcement to the reputed mobster. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
BOSTON - JUNE 24: Reporters stand outside the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse as James 'Whitey' Bulger and girlfriend Catherine Greig are arraigned June 24, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. Bulger is wanted for the alleged murders of 19 people dating back to the mid 90's and Greig is wanted for harboring a criminal. Both were arrested in Santa Monica, California on Wednesday after 16 years on the run. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
BOSTON - JUNE 24: Spectators stand outside the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse as James 'Whitey' Bulger and girlfriend Catherine Greig are arraigned June 24, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. Bulger is wanted for the alleged murders of 19 people dating back to the mid 90's and Greig is wanted for harboring a criminal. Both were arrested in Santa Monica, California on Wednesday after 16 years on the run. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
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For more than two decades, Bulger was one of the nation’s most notorious gangsters, the leader of South Boston’s violent Winter Hill Gang. He killed or arranged the murder of nearly 20 people between 1973 and 1985, according to federal authorities.

He was in his mid-60s when he went on the lam after a corrupt FBI agent alerted him he was about to be arrested. Despite being added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, he survived 16 years on the run before he was caught in 2011. Authorities said they found fake IDs, a cache of weapons and $800,000 in cash inside an apartment he shared with longtime companion Catherine Greig, then 60.

Bulger (right, with an unidentified man) in an undated photo presented as evidence by his defense team during his trial in 2013.

Bulger, the son of an impoverished Irish immigrant, grew up in South Boston. As a youth, he was reportedly drawn to the streets and, by the time he was a teenager, had racked up multiple arrests for a number of crimes. It was local police who nicknamed Bulger “Whitey” — a moniker he was said to despise — because of his light blond hair.

After a stint at a juvenile detention center, Bulger enlisted in the Air Force in the 1940s. Military life didn’t suit him, and in 1952, after serving nearly four years, he was discharged after several run-ins with the law and for reportedly going AWOL.

Back on the streets, he couldn’t keep his nose clean. In 1956 he was sent to federal prison for armed robbery and hijacking a truck. In total, he served nine years at various prisons, including the federal penitentiaries in Atlanta, on Alcatraz in San Francisco and at Leavenworth, Kansas. He was paroled in 1965.

After his release, Bulger rose to power in the Winter Hill Gang, an Irish mob syndicate that controlled much of Boston during the 1970s and ’80s. In order to generate money, he engaged in numerous illegal activities, including extortion, trafficking of firearms and murder, according to the federal authorities. His criminal enterprises reportedly earned him upward of $30 million.

He managed to infiltrate government agencies, including the FBI. It was a federal agent in December 1994 who tipped off the mob boss that the Department of Justice planned to arrest him for murder, extortion, racketeering, money laundering and other crimes. Bulger fled Boston on Dec. 23, 1994. He and Greig then vanished. Aside from a sighting in London’s Piccadilly Circus in September 2002, their whereabouts remained a mystery for the next 16 years.

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Guests look at items belonging to notorious Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger are displayed during before an asset-forfeiture auction in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Friday, June 24, 2016. The U.S. Marshals Service auctioned off items seized in 2011 from the Santa Monica hideout of the Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig. Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Home decorations belonging to Catherine Greig, longtime girlfriend of notorious Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger, are displayed during a press preview before an asset-forfeiture auction in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Friday, June 24, 2016. The U.S. Marshals Service auctioned off items seized in 2011 from the Santa Monica hideout of the Bulger and Greig. Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Notes written by notorious Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger are seen in the book 'Ghettostadt: Lodz and the Making of a Nazi City' during a press preview before an asset-forfeiture auction in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Friday, June 24, 2016. The U.S. Marshals Service auctioned off items seized in 2011 from the Santa Monica hideout of the Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig. Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Shoes and hats belonging to notorious Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger are displayed during a press preview before an asset-forfeiture auction in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Friday, June 24, 2016. The U.S. Marshals Service auctioned off items seized in 2011 from the Santa Monica hideout of the Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig. Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Guests look at items belonging to notorious Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger are displayed during before an asset-forfeiture auction in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Friday, June 24, 2016. The U.S. Marshals Service auctioned off items seized in 2011 from the Santa Monica hideout of the Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig. Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Cat mugs belonging to Catherine Greig, longtime girlfriend of notorious Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger, are displayed during a press preview before an asset-forfeiture auction in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Friday, June 24, 2016. The U.S. Marshals Service auctioned off items seized in 2011 from the Santa Monica hideout of the Bulger and Greig. Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A skull ring once belonging to James 'Whitey' Bulger and being offered for auction is seen in an undated picture released by the U.S. Marshals Service. Courtesy U.S. Marshals Service/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Guests look at items belonging to notorious Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger are displayed during before an asset-forfeiture auction in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Friday, June 24, 2016. The U.S. Marshals Service auctioned off items seized in 2011 from the Santa Monica hideout of the Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig. Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Pictures of pets owned by belonging to notorious Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger and his longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig are displayed during before an asset-forfeiture auction in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Friday, June 24, 2016. The U.S. Marshals Service auctioned off items seized in 2011 from the Santa Monica hideout of the Bulger and Greig. Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A man looks at jewelry belonging to notorious Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger are displayed during before an asset-forfeiture auction in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Friday, June 24, 2016. The U.S. Marshals Service auctioned off items seized in 2011 from the Santa Monica hideout of the Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig. Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A skull ring belonging to notorious Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger is displayed during a press preview before an asset-forfeiture auction in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Friday, June 24, 2016. The U.S. Marshals Service auctioned off items seized in 2011 from the Santa Monica hideout of the Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig. Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Guests look at items belonging to notorious Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger are displayed during before an asset-forfeiture auction in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Friday, June 24, 2016. The U.S. Marshals Service auctioned off items seized in 2011 from the Santa Monica hideout of the Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig. Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Sweatpants belonging to notorious Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger are displayed during a press preview before an asset-forfeiture auction in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Friday, June 24, 2016. The U.S. Marshals Service auctioned off items seized in 2011 from the Santa Monica hideout of the Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig. Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Books belonging to notorious Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger are displayed during a press preview before an asset-forfeiture auction in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Friday, June 24, 2016. The U.S. Marshals Service auctioned off items seized in 2011 from the Santa Monica hideout of the Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig. Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A digital blood pressure monitor and cat book belonging to notorious Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger are displayed during a press preview before an asset-forfeiture auction in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Friday, June 24, 2016. The U.S. Marshals Service auctioned off items seized in 2011 from the Santa Monica hideout of the Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig. Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A Stanley Cup Championship ring once belonging to James 'Whitey' Bulger and being offered for auction is seen in an undated picture released by the U.S. Marshals Service. Courtesy U.S. Marshals Service/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Shoes, clothing, and hats belonging to notorious Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger are displayed during a press preview before an asset-forfeiture auction in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Friday, June 24, 2016. The U.S. Marshals Service auctioned off items seized in 2011 from the Santa Monica hideout of the Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig. Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A calendar belonging to notorious Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger is displayed during before an asset-forfeiture auction in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Friday, June 24, 2016. The U.S. Marshals Service auctioned off items seized in 2011 from the Santa Monica hideout of the Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig. Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Notes written by notorious Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger are seen in the book 'A Criminal and An Irishman' during a press preview before an asset-forfeiture auction in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Friday, June 24, 2016. The U.S. Marshals Service auctioned off items seized in 2011 from the Santa Monica hideout of the Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig. Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A gold claddagh ring belonging to notorious Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger is displayed during a press preview before an asset-forfeiture auction in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Friday, June 24, 2016. The U.S. Marshals Service auctioned off items seized in 2011 from the Santa Monica hideout of the Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig. Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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The hunt for Bulger finally came to an end when authorities learned he and Greig were living at a seaside apartment in Santa Monica, California. FBI agents, acting on a tip, took the couple into custody on June 22, 2011.

“Although there are those who doubted our resolve, it never wavered,” Boston FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers said in announcing the arrests. “We followed every lead. We explored every possibility. … The result is we have captured one of the FBI’s 10 most wanted fugitives, a man notorious in Boston and around the world.”

Greig in a booking photo released after her arrest in 2011. She was convicted of conspiracy to harbor a fugitive and criminal contempt and was sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison.

In the days leading up to Bulger’s capture, the FBI had launched a publicity campaign seeking information on his and Greig’s whereabouts. The bureau credits the campaign with leading to the arrests.

After a two-month trial, during which prosecutors called him one of the “most violent and despicable criminals in Boston history,” a federal jury on Aug. 12, 2013, convicted Bulger of multiple firearms and racketeering charges. They also found him complicit in 11 killings. Three months later, he was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.

Although she was not implicated in his crimes, Greig was later convicted of conspiracy to harbor a fugitive and criminal contempt. She was sentenced to nearly 10 years in federal prison. Her projected release date is 2020.

Even in prison, Bulger didn’t fade from the media spotlight. His life and misdeeds were chronicled in the book “Black Mass,” which was adapted into a 2015 film starring Johnny Depp as the mobster. That year, Bulger made headlines after it was learned he had written a letter to three teens in Massachusetts who had contacted him for a high school project.

Various weapons seized from Bulger’s apartment in Santa Monica, California, in July 2011. Two years later, he was convicted on multiple of charges, including complicity in 11 killings. 

Bulger reportedly told the teens his “life was wasted and spent foolishly” and that he had brought “shame and suffering” on his family, including his younger brother William M. Bulger, who was the longest-serving president of the Massachusetts state Senate. The younger Bulger, according to The New York Times, was forced to resign as the president of the University of Massachusetts after refusing to testify at a congressional hearing about his brother’s activities.

The Boston Globe, which obtained a copy of James Bulger’s letter, contacted Patricia Donahue, whose husband was shot and killed by Bulger in 1982. She told the outlet she didn’t feel the gangster had “changed at all.”

“All he cares about is his family, which is probably one of the only normal things about him,” she said. “He doesn’t care about anybody else. I’m sure he doesn’t have any remorse about anyone he’s hurt or killed. He is a wasted life.”

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  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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