The news media has never figured out how James "Whitey" Bulger got killed at United States Penitentiary (USP) Hazelton in 2018. The reason he was killed was simple. He was a notorious rat that was placed in general population at an active* USP. That is a death sentence for any notorious rat like Whitey Bulger unless the staff at the prison removes the inmate from general population before they are killed. That is because of prison politics that inmates in general population live by. If someone is known to be a rat in general population then that person is removed by force. That force includes at least a beat down and at most a killing. In the case of a killing the person that carries it out is usually serving a life sentence already. Someone like Bulger would be in the kill category because he was a mobster that worked for the FBI and put away other mobsters.. That jacket at any active USP results in the following:
If nobody jumps him on sight then his people have a meeting to decide who will get him, what they will do, and how they will do it. An inmate's people are people from their own gang or if no one from that gang is available, someone of his own race from his part of the country. Then someone or some people will volunteer or be told to "put in work" on that individual. That is why Whitey Bulger was killed in his cell by a lifer from Boston. It is that simple.
What isn't so simple is who really signed Bulger's death warrant? Was it someone at the Designation and Sentence Computation Center (DSCC) in Grand Prairie, Texas that decided to transfer him to USP Hazelton? Was it someone working at USP Hazelton that decided to place Bulger in general population even though he was a notorious rat? The answer is everyone in Grand Prairie that signed off on transferring a notorious rat from the protective custody yard at USP Coleman II and everyone working at USP Hazelton that knew who he was and never stepped in to place him in protective custody. Those people along with anyone that may or may not have persuaded any of them not to protect him all co-signed his death warrant. The inmates that killed him were just the needle in his arm or in this case the lock in a sock on his head.
The 45 minute video below is really interesting, but even this guy gets things wrong. He talks about how TMZ claimed Bulger was killed in his cell and not in general population. The incident clearly took place in Bulger's general population cell. That is because general population includes cells in general population housing units. A lot of killings that take place in general population take place in cells because cameras cannot see inside of the cells. In all USPs the doors crack open at 6 AM at which point kitchen workers go to make breakfast and the other inmates do whatever until mainline is called and they go eat. Obviously someone doing a life sentence volunteered or was told to put in work on Bulger the night before and was waiting for the doors to crack before killing him. It is not surprising that inmates were free to come and go from the cell until a guard found him while doing rounds. Inmates come and go from cells all the time so four inmates entering his cell would not have been seen as suspicious.
This killing is similar to the killing of Aryan Brotherhood (AB) leader David Snow at USP Victorville in 2013. In that case members of the AB allegedly learned that Snow had been giving information to the staff. A pair of AB members later allegedly entered Snow's cell, killed him, and cut off his head with a sharp instrument rumored to have been made from a tin can lid. Like Bulger, Snow's body was not found until staff doing routine rounds inspected his cell. Then Special Investigative Services (SIS) looked at the surveillance footage, rounded up all inmates seen entering Snow's cell before his body was found, and placed them in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) pending investigation. As of 2016 those inmates were still being kept in SHU.
*an "active" USP is any USP that is not designated for protective custody inmates. They are general population prisons with a large number of active gang members hence the name "active."