Trial of Boston gang boss hears of Marita Ann connection

Simon Brouder

AN American IRA sympathiser who played a key role in the failed Marita Ann gunrunning plot, which led to the jailing of north Kerry Sinn Fein TD Martin Ferris, was executed personally by US gang boss Whitey Bulger, the trial of the former Boston mobster has heard.

James "Whitey" Bulger, who was captured in 2011 after 16 years on the run, and his Winter Hill crime gang were behind the US end of the plot and the feared gang boss, who is currently on trial for 19 murders, is charged with executing gang member John McIntyre for giving US authorities information about the gunrunning operation and other smuggling activities.

In September 1984 the IRA attempted to import 160 guns and 71,000 rounds of ammunition using the fishing vessel Marita Ann out of Fenit.

The guns and ammo were supplied by Bulger and his gang who organised for the Boston trawler The Valhalla to sail across the Atlantic and rendezvous with the Marita Ann to transfer the arms.

While the transfer went largely according to plan the plot was exposed by Tralee IRA informant Sean O'Callaghan. The Marita Ann was intercepted by the Irish Navy off the south Kerry coast and the crew of The Valhalla, including experienced sailor John McIntyre, were arrested by customs agents on their return to the US.

In December 1984 Martin Ferris and two other members of the Marita Ann crew, Mike Browne and John Crawley, were sentenced to ten years imprisonment at Portlaoise Prison for their part in the failed plot.

As Whitey Bulger's trial opened in Boston, Federal Prosecutor Brian Kelly outlined what US law enforcement believe happened in Boston following the capture of the Marita Ann and the loss of its seven tonne arms cargo.

Mr Kelly said that shortly after the seizure of the Marita Ann John McIntyre was arrested for drunk driving and in the course of his interrogation he offered to provide US police information on the US end of the Valhalla/Marita Ann plot.

Bulger's trial heard that in Autumn 1984, after McIntyre had agreed to work as an informant, Bulger lured him to a south Boston house at 799 East 3rd Street. Believing he was going to a party McIntyre arrived with a case of beer.

The court was told that when McIntyre arrived at the house instead of a party he found Bulger pointing a gun at him. McIntyre was then chained to a chair and interrogated by Bulger until he admitted his role as a police informant.

Mr Kelly said McIntyre was then brought down to the cellar of the suburban house where Bulger tried to strangle him with a rope. But the rope was too big and only made McIntyre gag.

Prosecutor Kelly told the Boston court that Bulger, who had himself been an FBI informant for two decades, then asked McIntyre "Do you want one in the head?"

McIntyre apparently replied "Yes please."

The Bulger trial continues and is expected to last several months