GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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June 25, 2011

'Whitey' arrest recalls Gloucester IRA gun run

The arrest of James "Whitey" Bulger earlier this week may resonate most deeply in South Boston, but the reverberations can be felt here in Gloucester.

In 1984, on a September night, the swordfish boat Valhalla left Gloucester Harbor.

Her captain, Robert Anderson of Gloucester, had filled her tank with 8,000 gallons of fuel at Gloucester Marine Railways, iced up with 30 tons, and purchased 7,000 pounds of bait mackerel and squid from Quality Seafoods.

Anyone who saw her leaving port probably thought she was headed out to fish.

About two weeks later, the Valhalla stopped in Boston before coming home to Gloucester. The ship was seized there by US Customs officials.

Authorities said Valhalla's crew had offloaded 7 1/2 tons of automatic rifles, submachines guns and hand grenades worth $1 million destined for the Irish Republican Army to another ship off the Irish coast during its trip. While the second ship and weapons were seized and its crew arrested by Irish authorities, the Valhalla was in international waters and coould not be stopped. She headed back out to sea, albeit under surveillence.

Irish officials said at the time that it was the largest seizure of IRA-bound weapons to date.

In Boston, the Valhalla was searched, but no arms except for an empty 9-mm shell casing were found. Anderson and John McIntyre, the Valhalla's navigator, were questioned for hours, but let go.

In April 1986, the U.S. government would accuse Andersen, McIntyre, reputed Irish mob boss Joseph Murray Jr. of Charlestown and Patrick Nee of South Boston of gun-running. Neither Murray nor Nee had been on the vessel, but had flown to Ireland to await the shipment, and then flown back to Boston when they heard of the seizure.

Also indicted was New Yorker John Crawley, an ex-Marine who had been arrested by Irish authorities in September 1984 and convicted of smuggling.

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