Sitting Down With A Criminal And An Irishman

An interview with an arms trafficker for the Irish Republican Army and a former Mullen Gang member: Patrick Nee

Ryan Henry

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(Patrick’s book: A Criminal and An Irishman)

Patrick Joseph Nee

Patrick Joseph Nee was an Irish-American mobster, Vietnam Veteran, IRA sympathizer, arms smuggler, author, and business partner of the infamously evil Whitey Bulger. Despite his criminal past, Patrick is now a changed man, who was kind enough to sit down to lunch with me and discuss his eventful past. During our interview we discussed many aspects of his life, from dodging Whitey Bulger’s bullets, robbing armored cars, his support of the IRA and his giant arms trafficking mission, to his life now in Southie.

 

Patrick was born in a small village in the Irish countryside, and at age eight he made his journey to America, which changed his life forever. The ship landed in New York, and from there his family traveled to South Boston, where Nee was challenged with “a little bit of a culture shock”. Young Nee endured many challenges while in Southie, he was an immigrant child who didn’t know how to fight, so he was picked on, and he often found his way into trouble. At age 14 he began spending his time with the local Mullen gang, which later, would forever change his life. At this young age, Nee was only considered a loose member of the Mullens, helping out with small jobs for the few years before he left to join the Marine Corp at only age 17, and weighing a slight 145 pounds.

 

Nee served in the Marines for four years, and through his service gained US citizenship. He was the first of his brothers to join the military, all of whom served for the US armed forces. Nee came to Vietnam as a part of the 4th Marine Brigade, and he saw action in 1965, at Phu Bai. Nee was fortunate enough to fight in the earlier years of the war, before the battle became “a losing cause”.

 

“I became a Mullen and Criminal”

After returning from war, Nee began helping his father with construction work; however, Nee knew that a typical job was not the right type of work for him. Growing up in a neighborhood that belonged to the Mullen gang, Nee says he always had an aspiration to join the gang, so he began what he called “natural progression” to a life of crime, and began learning the ways of the thief. “I became a Mullen and a criminal,” said Nee. Before the violence began, Nee said it was a simple job, steal and sell, steal and sell. And the only dangers they needed to look for were the police. A common method of stealing was either robbing warehouses, or stealing from tractor trailers. According to Nee the Mullen’s had loosely 60 members, but only about 12 hardcore members, when asked which he was, he said as his criminal carrer progressed he slowly became one of the more hardcore members.

 

Nee’s parent’s had a very funny way of dealing with his involvement with the gang. At family gatherings, his father would often point to objects around the house and say, “This is a great country, everything falls off trucks in this country, and young Pat takes it and brings it home.” His mother also had an unconventional way of dealing with Nee’s involvement, often when Nee would hide money around the house, his mother would find it and keep it. “Second thief is best thief” joked Nee during our interview.

 

Nee took a lot of pride in his criminal career, stating that they never stole from locals or did house breaks, and that most stealing was from trucks and businesses that could afford to take a hit. He then enthralled me with a story of their robbery of the Hotel Essex, which he also recounts in his book, after weeks of careful planning the hit took place, they got in through a fourth story window, and got away with it without hurting a soul, “I enjoyed that” said Nee in regard to the robbery.

 

After hearing the Hotel Essex story, I had to know more about what drew Nee to this life of crime and why he chose such a dangerous profession over a simple day job. Nee stated that he loved the “The freedom of being a criminal, I didn’t have to be any place besides where I could steal something.” Nee never worked a dayjob, and lived off of his “full-time” career as a criminal, he also told me that he “loved crime” as well as the adrenaline rush that came with it, but he made sure I knew that the “easy money”, wasn’t so easy. A successful crime took careful planning and a lot of time and effort, not to mention the extreme risks that came along with the job

 

Patrick Nee Today 

 

A Gang War is Fought “Very Carefully”

Things got worse for Patrick when the gang war with the Killeen gang began, a war in which Patrick would lose a brother, and a war that led to many close calls with Bulger, almost costing him his own life on numerous occasions. According to Nee, the war began with a personality dispute between some members of the Killen’s and some Mullen’s. As fate would have it, at the moment of that altercation, Nee was at a disco bar talking with Whitey, a Killeen at the time. Whitey actually drove Nee to the scene, but that’s when the kindness wold end, as a gang war had been started, and they were on opposing sides from that moment forward.

 

A gang war is fought “very carefully,” according to Nee, you must stalk all the habits of your enemy’s life, where they live, who their girlfriends are, what they drive, where they drink, and after this intelligence is gained, you change all your habits to stay away from them. This war altered Nee’s day to day life for two and a half years, he never drove the same car for more than six months, and never used his front door, always sneaking in through an alleyway side door. During the gang war, Nee had more than few run-ins with Whitey. On one occasion Whitey showed up to his house and almost shot Nee, however Nee was lucky enough to notice, and chased Bulger through the streets, having him in his cross-hairs but unable to take the shot. On another occasion, while driving with a friend, Bulger attempted again to murder Nee. A car pulled up next to them, rolled down the window, and out popped Whiety Bulger from the passenger window, spraying the car with bullets, however, Nee must’ve had the luck of the Irish on his side, escaping the attempted homicide with only cuts from the car’s broken glass.

 

The gang war was finally resolved at Chandler’s restaurant. The two gangs were brought together, The Killeen’s, and The Mullen’s, and with many high level criminals as mediators, the war was to be resolved. Howie Winter, Jimmy Martarano, among other high powered Boston criminals took part in the resolution. The meeting was set up to be a peaceful resolvement of the war. With Nee and a few other’s representing the Mullens, and Bulger along with some high level Killen’s representing the other side. Drinking nothing stronger than ginger ale, the two groups talked and talked for hours and eventually settled the dispute. The atmosphere in Chandler’s that night was certainly tense, as theywent throughthe muders and the violence, but Nee and Whitey were still able to joke with each other throughout it, despite their prior shootouts. Joking with one another about their aim and referencing the famous gangster movie, The Godfather. Everyone followed the strict no weapons policy, but both groups had armed gangsters mere blocks away, in case things went south.

 

According to Nee, this dispute ended on peaceful terms, resulting in a partnership between the two gangs, everything was split up and the operations were to be managed by Howie.  “We would answer to Howie, we were under his umbrella, if you want to phrase it like that. Howie was the man.” Nee said he left the meeting happy with it’s results, but that was because he didn’t realize everything Whitey Bulger would have in store for them. Bulger was a “cancer to our way of life.” said Nee of Whitey.

 

The meeting at Chandler’s was the start of a close business partnership between Nee and Whitey, Nee said it was far from a friendship, because Bulger and his partener Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, were psychopaths who were incapable of making friends, and this was very true. Even though Flemmi and Whitey often seemed close, Nee told me that when “The Rifleman” was out of earshot, Whitey would talk bad of him. As partners, Whitey took advantage of Nee and the other members of the gang, seeing them only mere stepping stones for his own personal gain. Bulger also was very self absorbed, and not somebody who Nee would enjoy being around, in fact, Nee would often tried to avoid Flemmi and Bulger at all costs. Nee told me “the only way to describe Whitey was: a cancer.” According to Nee, Whitey was foul on the inside and out, “he corrupted everything”, in addition to this, Nee told me Bulger had foul breath and was constantly paranoid. Bulger did not care for the other members of the gang and soon would try to plague Nee’s operations with helping the IRA.

 

Nee always felt a passion and an obsession for aiding the Irish Republican Army, a militant group fighting to push the British out of Ireland. Nee wanted to help any way he could, and he used his Winter Hill connections to make this possible. Nee began a funding and smuggling operation to benefit the IRA. First it began by supplying them with arms and raising money for them, then they got more advanced and customized a Dodge van to hide a large stockpile of arms for transport, which was a very successful operation. Bulger often went back and forth with New about helping the IRA, Bulger didn’t see the benefits and the profits of helping the cause and did not like the risk it entailed, but at the same time he enjoyed the legitimacy the cause gave his illegal operations. This constant back and forth bothered Nee, and he made sure to always be wary of Bulger’s intentions and to warn the IRA to do the same.

 

The Valhalla

    In 1984, After numerous small arms smuggling operations, Nee would soon set out on what was perhaps his crowning achievement, The Valhalla mission. The Valhalla mission was a massive arms smuggling operation, an attempt to move seven tons of weapons out of the United States and into Ireland. The Valhalla was a former fishing vessel which would go on to carry 163 assault rifles, over 70,000 rounds of ammunition, a ton of explosives, shotguns, mini machine guns, and bulletproof vests. In total everything cost a whopping 1.2 million dollars. The mission took months of planning, with most of the weapons being completely legally purchased by Nee through mail order gun magazines. Nee spearheaded the operation, organizing the collection of the arms and planning their transport, however Nee did not participate in the actual boat ride across the Atlantic.

 

The Valhalla upon its return (Source: The Telegraph)

 

The Valhalla left Gloucester Harbor in the dead of night, and the Valhalla’s portion of the trip was a success, completing a dangerous and difficult, but successful, Atlantic crossing. However the arms were intercepted after being transferred to an Irish boat off the coast of Ireland. The boat then made it safely back to America, and the problems began. John McIntyre, one of the men who traveled on the Valhalla, was stopped by police, upset and wishing for a normal life, he told the whole story of the Valhalla and of Nee. Whitey Bulger, paranoid he would be caught for helping with the arms smuggling, caught wind of McIntyre’s confessions through his FBI connection, and acted on his instinct, to kill. Bulger lured McIntyre to Nee’s brother’s house, bound and tortured McIntyre for hours, before finally shooting him in the head and removing all his teeth. Nee then later recalls walking in on the scene, and being forced to bury the body, fearing for his own life. In our interview, Nee did not comment on this tragic event. McIntyre’s body was found in the dirt cellar, 16 years later.

 

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Some of the arms recovered after the mission was intercepted (Source: crimetourboston.com)

 

    The Aftermath

Nee was arrested in 1987, served 2 years in federal prison and was released in 1989. After his release, Nee returned to a life of crime, being arrested for an armored car robbery in Abington in 1990. Although given a life sentence, Nee was released in 2000. Today, Nee spends his time with his family and is enjoying his life in Southie. Nee also recounted why he wrote his book, and he said he wanted to make sure the real story was told, he says he felt nothing is missing and laughed saying that he will never write another. It was a privilege to talk to this man, who has an incredible and unique life story. For those who wish to learn even more, I recommend his book: A Criminal and An Irishman

 

 

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