Inspiration for ‘The Departed,’ Bulger captured after 16 years

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BOSTON — When James “Whitey” Bulger ruled the streets of South Boston, the New England crime scene was a battleground for a bloody turf war between the Italian Mafia and Irish street crews.

But some observers say the organized crime landscape that took shape during Bulger’s 16 years on the lam — ending with his capture days ago in California — is a shell of its former self, hobbling along with “old men in diapers” at the helm.

The ruthless crime syndicates powerfully depicted in movies including “The Departed” have seemingly lost much of their box office luster in real life. The character played by Jack Nicholson in “The Departed” was inspired by Bulger.