Whitey Bulger and his Rhode Island ties

Notorious gangster James “Whitey” Bulger was found dead behind bars on Monday, and although the mobster made his name on the streets of Boston, he was well known to Rhode Island law enforcement during his reign.

The 89 year-old was transferred to West Virginia’s Hazelton Federal Prison, a facility inmates refer to as Misery Mountain, just yesterday to serve out two life sentences for 11 murders and now the FBI is launching an investigation to determine if he died a rat’s death; the victim of a mob hit behind bars.

Lt. Col. Joe Philbin with Rhode Island State Police said that Bulger played out a large part of his criminal career in the Ocean State, even before buddying up with the Patriarca Crime family.

Bulger went on the run shortly after Philbin joined the force in 1994.

“One of the first crimes he was arrested for was a series of bank robberies and one of the happened in Pawtucket,” Philbin said. “He was always the talk around the department.”

Bulger ended up serving time in Alcatraz for those robberies.

ABC 6 asked Lt. Col. Philbin about any unsolved crimes in Rhode Island Bulger might have been a part in.

“Not that I can comment on. I’m sure there is,” he replied.

Current New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell also played a role in catching Bulger. He was the lead prosecutor on a task force to catch the gangster.

“Ultimately, he should be remembered for what he was, which was a thug,” Mitchell said. “These things happen and I’m not surprised it happened to him.”

The two said their prayers are now with the victims’ families and not with the man responsible for the murders.