Page last updated at 08:58 GMT, Thursday, 4 September 2008 09:58 UK

Double reward for Irish US mobster

James J Bulger - age enhanced FBI photgraph
James Bulger may now look like this

A US $1m reward was not enough, but the FBI hope that doubling it to $2m may help in the hunt for Boston Irish mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger.

The 78-year-old convicted bank robber and FBI informant who was indicted for 19 murders and has been on-the-run for 13 years.

In 2003 the focus of their search turned to the British Isles and it was thought he may have been given shelter by republicans.

In the 1980s Bulger, the head of the so-called Winter Hill Gang, allegedly helped smuggle a cache of weapons from the US to the IRA.

His last confirmed sighting was in London's Piccadilly Circus in September 2002, when he bumped into a former friend.

The FBI sent agents to Italy last year after a man and woman resembling Bulger and his girlfriend were caught on videotape. They turned out to be Germans.

Bulger, an inspiration for the Oscar-winning film The Departed. is known as America's most-wanted fugitive after Osama bin Laden.

The authorities have said they are confident that he will eventually face justice.

"I am confident that he will be captured," Warren Bamford, special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston office, told a news conference.

Mr Bamford said the FBI would also issue a new Top Ten wanted poster with new Bulger head shots to its 56 field offices in the United States and 60 offices around the world.

Bulger vanished in 1995, after being tipped off about an impending raid.

The balding Bostonian, with ties to corrupt federal agents and a brother who led the Massachusetts Senate for nearly 20 years, was the inspiration for the character Frank Costello played by Jack Nicholson in The Departed.

The FBI believes he has been surviving on millions of dollars stashed away in bank safety deposit boxes with a false passport and an alias.

Two safety deposit boxes, in London and Dublin, were traced and opened in September 2002.

They contained money in various currencies, an Irish passport in Bulger's name and a brochure called The World's Top Retirement Havens.

The FBI warn that he should be considered "armed and extremely dangerous" and anyone seeing him should contact them.


SEE ALSO
Profile: James 'Whitey' Bulger
27 Feb 08 |  Americas
FBI steps up hunt for 'Whitey'
10 Feb 03 |  Europe

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