The Limitations of Law Enforcement

04/07/2011 19:10 BST | Updated 06/09/2011 10:12 BST

James 'Whitey' Bulger, a notorious Boston gangster on the FBI's 10 most wanted list, has been captured near Los Angeles after living on the run for 16 years.

Bulger, 81, was the leader of the Winter Hill gang and a top-level FBI informant when he fled in January 1995 after being tipped off by a former Boston FBI agent that he was about to be indicted.

During his years on the run, the FBI received reported sightings of Bulger and his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig, from all over the US and parts of Europe. In many of those sightings, investigators could not confirm whether it was actually Bulger who was spotted or simply a lookalike.

Agent Casperwitz and myself chartered a flight to Paris, city of love, and, as it now appeared, crime. 

Our target had been sighted in a part of Europe. Agent Casperwitz discovering I'd never seen Paris in the springtime, decided there was nothing for it, but this was the place to start.

The old faithful Eiffel Tower was up that day, and Paris hummed with 'French'. Lusty cowards sauntering down boulevards played garlic and stunk of accordion. Through the sea of berets I spotted a guy with grey hair. Could this be him? Did our target have grey hair? 

We trailed him for twenty minutes, trying to recall the French for 'stop'. When Agent Casperwitz finally remembered that you could just use the English, the fellow introduced himself as 'Milo', explaining that he wasn't the target. 

He was thoroughly decent about the whole affair, rescuing what might have become a rather awkward situation. Law-enforcement agents often mistook him for the target, he said. Apparently because of their sharing a unique birth-mark. We mustn't feel embarrassed. What a nice chap!


"The target looks a bit like that guy who was in the film once, doesn't he?", Agent Casperwitz passed the bratwurst. Since we'd arrived in doughnut shaped-metropolis, Berlin, the Germans hadn't started a single war, which was refreshing.

"I thought he looked more like the guy who did that show", I thrust it back. I was beginning to worry Agent Casperwitz had never seen the target, let alone a film. This troubled me, as neither had I. 

"Do you think it could be that guy?", Agent Casperwitz gestured with his sausage to a guy. I tried to recall the French for 'yes', before realising we were in Germany. "Yes", I replied.

We thrust the suspect against the (Berlin?) wall. He knew what we were thinking, as it had happened a couple of times already today, he explained. We were thinking he was the target. People often mention the resemblance, and although he'd never actually seen the target, he'd take our word for it.

Agent Casperwitz and I swapped looks: I grew my sideburns long, and he began sporting a moustache. The suspect's story, however, seemed plausible, so we picked up the tab for his strudel, and asked if we could get our picture taken with him. 

We intend to mail it back to the office. Little coincidences like this give the Director a kick.


Rome - the windy city. Agent Casperwitz had sketched an impression of the target, but could only draw boxes on boxes, or crazy animals. We knew now that the target was either a small stack of boxes, or a frog in a sombrero. And that Agent Casperwitz should hold onto those receipts for his life-drawing classes. 

Agent Casperwitz explained that we were statistically more likely to find the target here than in any other country. Apparently, Italy is really into this thing called the 'The Mafia', where crime is ok because of all the films. I couldn't help thinking that if Agent Casperwitz knew half as much about organised crime as he does about 'The Mafia', we might stand a fighting chance of finding our target.

A kindly local judge responded to our inquiries re. 'The Mafia', by organising an overnight stay in the town jail. This provided an excellent opportunity for making underworld contacts.

I was delighted to find myself sharing a bunk with a fellow I took to be our old-friend from the German cafe. His eyes started almost out of his head when he saw me. He explained that he was actually a professional look-alike of the target, and was doing the eye-thing because that was what the target would do when faced with an FBI agent.

How did even know we were FBI agents? You had to admire his thoroughness.

This is going to tickle the Director.

(Disclaimer: this blog post is a work of fiction.)