Opening statements begin in Bulger racketeering trial as prosecutors, defense outline case

Opening statements have begun in the long-awaited racketeering trial of reputed gangster James "Whitey" Bulger in Boston.

A federal prosecutor told jurors Wednesday that Bulger was at the center of "murder and mayhem" in Boston for almost 30 years. Bulger is accused of participating in 19 killings in the 1970s and '80s as the violent leader of the Winter Hill Gang.

His lawyers plan to attack the credibility of the prosecution's star witnesses, three former Bulger cohorts who have turned into government witnesses and implicated him in the killings and a host of other crimes.

The now-83-year-old Bulger was one of the nation's most-wanted fugitives when he fled Boston in 1994 on a tip he was about to be indicted. He was arrested in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011.