Motorcycle gang members face murder, drug charges

July 12, 2011 - 11:14 AM

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Eighteen members of a motorcycle gang known as Wheels of Soul face a federal indictment on charges ranging from racketeering to kidnapping to murder, including for fatal shootings in three states.

The indictment handed up June 9 was unsealed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis. It wasn't immediately clear if any of the defendants had attorneys.

The defendants are from seven states: Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Colorado, Wisconsin and Kentucky.

The indictment alleges that Wheels of Soul is governed by the "Mother Chapter" in Philadelphia, with regional chapters around the country. Federal agents raided two Wheels of Soul clubhouses in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Members wear a black vest adorned with patches on the back and commonly refer to the gang as "the Nation."

The indictment alleges that a select few gang members achieved "1%er," or "Diamond" status for particularly violent activity. It accuses gang members of planning extortion against smaller gangs; distributing drugs, especially crack cocaine; plotting and carrying out several acts of violence including kidnapping, robbery and murder.

It also accuses gang members of several shootings, including three that were fatal: In St. Louis in 2009; in Chicago in January; and in Marion, Ohio, in March.

Some of the violence cited in the indictment was breathtaking. One member allegedly stabbed another person in the head during a fight at a Chicago motorcycle club, then shot another in the stomach.

In January, six of the accused went to an East St. Louis, Ill., nightclub intending to kill members of the rival Outkast OMG gang, according to the indictment. The plan was foiled because several police officers were seen near the club.