FBI Casts Wide Net for Mob Fugitive

The FBI and Terra Lycos are teaming up in an effort to capture one of the United States’ most wanted fugitives. In what the FBI calls a “groundbreaking technological initiative in law enforcement,” Lycos will feature information and a likeness of James “Whitey” Bulger in banner ads across its global network. Previously, the government’s Ten Most Wanted list only appeared on the FBI site.

The FBI is not paying for the banners, which Lycos officials say they are offering the space as a public service. The company is based in Madrid and has U.S. headquarters in Waltham, Mass.

Bulger, a major Boston mob figure, is wanted on 18 counts of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit extortion, narcotics distribution, conspiracy to commit money laundering; extortion and money laundering. The FBI is offering a $1 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Bulger.

On the FBI’s Most Wanted list since 1999, Bulger is known to have traveled extensively through Europe, Canada and Mexico. Bulger’s virtual most wanted poster will be distributed in Spanish on Terra.com, which draws heavy Internet traffic from Latin America. Users who click on the Bulger banner will be directed to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted web site where they can learn how to leave tips for the FBI.

An FBI spokesperson said the joint effort with Lycos was an experiment that could lead to others on the Most Wanted list being posted throughout the Web.

The Bulger Fugitive Task Force is comprised of representatives and investigators from the FBI, Massachusetts State Police, DEA, Boston Police Department, the Massachusetts Department of Correction and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Bulger has been a fugitive since 1995.

Ironically, Bulger was once a secret informant for the FBI providing information about the Mafia. In exchange, Bulger’s handler, FBI agent John Connolly, protected him and over time even provided sensitive information about investigations by other law enforcement agencies and a coming indictment.

Connolly was convicted of racketeering charges is currently serving 10 years in federal prison for his role in the scandal.

Earlier this week, Whitey’s brother, William Bulger, the former president of the Massachusetts Senate, invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when called before a Congressional Committee investigating ties between the FBI and his brother.

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