They are known as "Wheels of Soul." Members abide by the creed "God forgives, wheels don't." Federal authorities say the outlaw motorcycle gang lives up to that motto every day, committing murders and violence along the way.
Federal law agents raided the national headquarters of the biker gang in Philadelphia Tuesday, including the 64-year-old leader of the Wheels of Soul, James "Animal" Smith, held without bond until a Friday hearing.
Making a Chicago court appearance late Tuesday afternoon was 33-year-old Allan Hunter of Wheaton, a father of four listed as the gang's second in command, also ordered held without bond for now.
Hunter, known as "Dog," is the regional vice president of the biker gang, according to federal prosecutors.
Six others were grabbed in Chicago, all top officials and members of the group charged in connection with the nationwide racketeering scheme, including several murders.
Gang members have never been shy about discussing their methods and a few years ago allowed a filmmaker to follow them for a documentary.
Federal agents Tuesday said the biker gang used code words to confuse law enforcement: "presents" were pipe bombs; a "kit" was a collection of weapons including knives and hammers; an "enforcer" was the gang's business agent; and "bottles of wine" were guns.
A murder last January in Chicago is among the killings connected to the Wheels of Soul. Virtually all the violence was motivated by revenge or turf disputes.
In addition to the bikers arrested Tuesday in Illinois and Pennsylvania, arrests were made in Wisconsin, Ohio, Missouri and Kentucky.