Thursday 20 June 2019

Boston crime boss who shipped guns to Ferris is still at large

LIAM COLLINS

EIGHTEEN years after the arrest of the gun-running ship Marita Ann off the Kerry coast with Sinn Fein election candidate Martin Ferris on board, the FBI is still trying to track down the drug-smuggling Boston gang-boss who helped organise the seven ton shipment of guns, gren

EIGHTEEN years after the arrest of the gun-running ship Marita Ann off the Kerry coast with Sinn Fein election candidate Martin Ferris on board, the FBI is still trying to track down the drug-smuggling Boston gang-boss who helped organise the seven ton shipment of guns, grenades and ammunition.

The Valhalla, which brought the consignment across the Atlantic to rendezvous with the Marita Ann off the Kerry coast, was used for the arms shipment.

A couple of weeks after the shipment in 1984 John McIntyre, a small-time South Boston criminal, was arrested by his local police for domestic violence. But he told startled cops that he had "insider" information on the IRA gun running plot.

He told them the consignment of arms had been organised and paid for by local drug lords Joseph Murray, James 'Whitey' Bulger and Stephen Flemmi. He believed that Bulger then told his FBI handlers about the consignment to put Murray out of business, so that he could take over his drugs operation.

McIntyre revealed that he was one of the crew on the Valhalla and that he and gang boss Joe Murray had previously visited Kerry.

He also confirmed that one of the crew who transferred from the Valhalla to the Marita Anne, Patrick Nee, was an "associate" of Bulger's, while another, Kevin Weeks had planned the arms shipment.

McIntyre also told the US Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) that there was a plan at one time to include drugs on the Valhalla with the arms. But after McIntyre told his story to the FBI it is believed the information was passed on to Bulger. McIntyre was murdered and his body wasn't found for 16 years.

A federal Judge, Mark L Wolf, conducting an investigation into police corruption said three years ago that he could not determine whether corrupt agents played a part in McIntyre's murder, but he had "reason to be concerned" that retired agent John Connolly had warned Bulger that McIntyre was co-operating with the authorities.

Bulger is now "on the run" and in 1999 was added to America's 'Ten Most Wanted Men.' The most powerful figure in 'Southie' Boston's Irish enclave, James J 'Whitey' Bulger never got so much as a parking ticket during 20 years running drugs, guns and other rackets in the city.

But investigators have uncovered a trail of the bodies of gang members who became informers and other criminals who crossed him. In January 2000, Kevin Weeks, who planned the Marita Ann shipment, pleaded guilty to racketeering charges in exchange for leniency. As part of the deal he led police to a mob grave in Dorchester where they exhumed the bodies of John McIntyre, Arthur 'Bucky' Barrett and Deborah Hussey. Further searches revealed the bodies of Paul McGonagle, Tommy King and Debra Davis.

Patrick Nee and Joseph Murray were convicted of involvement in the Valhalla/Marita Anne arms shipment, but Bulger was never charged.

In a book on the murky world of South Boston's Irish-American crime gangs, Black Mass, two respected Boston Globe reporters say that "the criminals and the lawmen eventually became indistinguishable." The FBI relied on Bulger for information to smash the city's Italian gangs and when they were taken out the authorities allowed him to control the city underworld. But over the years the "relationship changed," and it was the FBI who supplied the criminal with inside stories. Their last big favour for the crime boss was in 1995 when they warned Bulger that he was about to be arrested. Bulger has been on the run ever since.

As election fever grips Kerry, the question now being asked is how much did Martin Ferris, who was on the Marita Ann and served 10 years for gun running, know about the people who "supplied" the IRA with such a huge store of weaponry ... and did he care?

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News