They were arrested without incident at a residence in Santa Monica, the FBI said, just days after the agency renewed its public campaign to capture Mr Bulger and Catherine Greig, his 60-year-old girlfriend.
The 81-year-old former fugitive has been wanted on 19 counts of murder committed in the 1970s and 1980s, drug dealing, extortion, money laundering and conspiracy. He is the older brother of William “Billy” Bulger, a former president of the Massachusetts state Senate.
“Recent publicity produced a tip which led agents to Santa Monica where they located both Bulger and Greig at a residence,” said Richard DesLauries, FBI Boston special agent in charge.
A $2m reward was offered for information leading to Mr Bulger’s arrest and $100,000 for details of Ms Greig’s whereabouts. He was placed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list in 1999 and she was charged in 1997 with harbouring a fugitive.
The FBI late on Wednesday slapped “captured” tags on photos it had posted on its website of Mr Bulger and Ms Greig, including enhanced pictures of the fugitive to account for the time that had passed. Ms Greig had multiple plastic surgeries before fleeing.
Before their capture in California, the last credible sighting of the pair was in London in 2002. Mr Bulger is thought to have travelled extensively in the US, Europe, Canada and Latin America.
The FBI produced a 30-second public service announcement focused on finding Ms Greig and it began airing on Tuesday during daytime TV programs in 10 states. It was aimed at female viewers in her age group.
The agency had hoped that a hairstylist, manicurist, doctor or other acquaintance might recognise Ms Greig, a former dental hygienist.
The two are expected to make initial appearances in federal court in California, though it was not immediately clear when.
Mr Bulger, said to be an avid reader and history buff who likes to take long walks on beaches, has been featured on the TV show America’s Most Wanted more than a dozen times between 1995 and 2010.
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