Irish Gang Wars: Quick Backgroud

I order to add some context to the Whitey Bulger case we are following we felt a short history lesson in its roots and that of organized crime in New England would be helpful.

The Irish Gang Wars

ImageBy Sharon Branco

The Irish gangs and the New England Mafia co-existed in the early 60’s but the peace between the Irish gangs wouldn’t last

Charlestown, Massachusetts 1961.  Charlestown is a historic town, one of the oldest Boston neighborhoods located north of Boston on the banks of the Boston Harbor and Mystic River.   The USS Constitution, a.m. “Old Ironsides,” is docked at the Charlestown Navy Yard and the Bunker Hill Monument is to the north.  On Halloween afternoon in 1961, the residents of Charlestown would be witnesses to a new historic happening, but this incident left no landmark to visit, it was the beginning of the Irish gang wars.

It was two o’clock on Halloween afternoon when Bernie McLaughlin of the McLaughlin Brothers gang walked towards Richards Bottled Liquors.  Casually observing the flurry of activity in the vicinity of a local utility street opening.  With the distraction caused by jackhammers and backhoes, he failed to notice a man with a yellow hard-hat emerging out of the other end of the gaping hole in the street.

Bernie was caught off guard, the man wearing  the hard-hat was Buddy McLean, from the McLean gang.   Buddy turned sharply and headed purposefully for Bernie.  Bernie desperately yelled, “Buddy, wait….hold it….we didn’t know….we woulda never…” 

Buddy didn’t want to hear no explanation.

“Tell it to the devil,” McLean yelled back as he pumped a slug from his .45 automatic weapon into Bernie’s eye socket and cheekbone.   He back-peddled along a sidewalk and fell to the ground from the impact.  McLean pumped more slugs into McLaughlin until he no longer moved.  A car pulled up and McLean jumped in and sped away.

Blood leaked from McLaughlin’s body  onto the sidewalk and into a nearby gutter.  The Boston police would estimate that close to sixty people witnessed the execution, but true to the Charlestown code of silence, nobody saw a thing.

The McLean gang  – They were from the Winter Hill section of Somerville, Massachusetts.  Headed by James “Buddy” McLean and Howard “Howie” Winter.  They were primarily hijackers, took part in the sale of untaxed cigarettes, loansharking and bookmaking.  They did not handle contract hits for the Mafia that was the McLaughlin domain.

The McLaughlin gang – Charlestown, Massachusetts.  George McLaughlin, Bernard “Bernie” McLaughlin, and Edward “Punchy” McLaughlin.  They ran most of the gambling at nearby Charlestown and much of the Boston waterfront.  They were also handling contract “hits” for the Mafia.

The McLaughlin’s were the Mafia’s useful, lethal idiots.  Local Irish hoodlums  didn’t trust the McLaughlins or the Mafia, but they would never admit it.  The term “hits” was actually coined in the Boston underworld of the 1950’s to describe the number of “contract” murders the McLaughlins carried out.

The Irish gang wars were a fairly welcomed war to the New England Mafia.  The New England Mafia was headed by Mafia Boss Raymond Patriarca who ran his business from his office on Atwells Avenue in Providence, Rhode Island.  His underboss was Jerry Anguilo located in Boston.   The New England Mafia controlled 70% of the organized criminal activity in New England during this period including the bulk of the gambling and loansharking but it wasn’t 100%.

Patriarca, along with Anguilo and Mafia capo Peter “Big Peter” Limone agreed that their strategy in the Irish gang wars would be: support both sides in the gang wars with guns, money and conversation.  The undisciplined, and super-violent Irish gangs would do the work for them.  When they killed each off, the Mafia would step in and take over.


About behindtheyellowtape

Joey Ortega started his investigative career early at the age of 18 working as an apprentice investigator for local detectives. He started out doing insurance fraud investigations and background investigations. Proving adept in the areas surveillance and information gathering, Joey continued to seek further investigative challenges. From there he went on to do internal investigations for a number of companies that include; Sears, Roebuck Co., Saks Fifth Avenue, and K-mart. He was largely responsible for investigating issues of internal theft, embezzlement, workers comp fraud, and crime ring investigations. His success eventually earned him a position as a national investigator for a cellular chain, investigating crime rings on a national level. Trained in the Reid technique (interviewing/interrogation), Joey was able to gain confessions consistently without a single prosecution ever being challenged in court. Throughout his career as an internal investigator Joey continued to work for various private investigative agencies. Moving away from insurance fraud, Joey began developing his skills in the areas of criminal defense investigation, fidelity investigation, missing person’s investigations, and stalker investigations. It was the area of stalker investigations that Joey began to discover his passion for computer crime investigations. Having to learn quickly how to trace harassing and threatening emails, Joey began see that this is where the future of crime and justice was heading and decided to throw himself deeply into the subject. As a result, Joey’s clientele began to include those who were victims of internet fraud and cyber attacks. Joey is also the co-founder of The Ullemeyer Group, Inc. an investigative and training firm based in Santa Barbara, California that specializes in forensic training and consulting.
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