PORTSMOUTH, Va. -- Local, federal, and state agencies raided what they believe is the clubhouse of an infamous biker gang associated with organized crime, called Wheels of Soul Outlaw Motorcycle Club.
The Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, the Portsmouth Police Department, the U.S. Postal Inspectors Office and agents with Homeland Security Investigations executed two search warrants at 2610 Elliot Avenue in Portsmouth Friday morning.
Witnesses said they saw investigators in and out of the building.
“The state police, some SUVs; there was quite a bit of them,” said Chris Standard of Portsmouth.
Another man said it was concerning to see police cars surrounding the building.
“I really don’t know what happened,” he said.
The unassuming building sits behind a pizza shop on Elliott Avenue. The front of the clubhouse is now boarded up after Standard said he saw police bust through.
“The truck hit the door here, ran through it,” he said.
The sheriff's office says investigators, who followed up on leads developed during the arrest of Isle of Wight County resident Ronald Matthews in December 2021, have reason to believe that the Elliot Avenue location was the clubhouse of the Wheels of Soul Outlaw motorcycle gang.
Information developed during this investigation led law enforcement investigators to believe that Matthews, as well as other members of the Wheels of Soul, are and have been involved in illegal activities.
Capt. Tommy Potter with the Isle of Wight County Sheriff's Office compared this group to Hells Angels.
Potter said the Wheels of Soul biker gang met at the clubhouse weekly. While it’s unclear what went on inside, Potter said evidence, including documents and ledgers, is tied to possible illegal activity throughout Hampton Roads and up and down the East Coast.
“They run these out motorcycle gangs like a business,” he said. “Most of the time, the businesses they are involved in are criminal activity.”
When asked if Matthews was the ringleader of the organization, Potter says it would be accurate to call him that, as Matthews was a "high-ranking member" and was the vice president.
During December's search warrant at Matthews’ home, investigators found dozens of weapons, including high-powered rifles, drugs and documents, which led to Friday's raid of the clubhouse.
Friday's search found more documents and ledgers.
Potter says gangs like these have a history of a violent past.
According to the FBI, these organized groups support themselves primarily through drug dealing, trafficking stolen goods and extortion.
Chris Standard said he would see a ton of bikers hanging out in the parking lot in front of the clubhouse and never suspected any illegal activity.
“I think it’s crazy because this area here is usually not too much crime,” Chris Standard said. “But it’s kind of crazy because when they were here, they didn’t seem like that type of gang.”
Potter said the biker group is meant to look inconspicuous.
“To a lot of people, on the outside they look like they’re just a group of motorcycle enthusiasts who come together to ride, because they have people that craft a public image for them,” he said. “But in law enforce circles and throughout investigations, we know that is just a forefront, a face they put on, but behind that veil, they are involved in criminal activity.”
Potter believes the Wheels of Soul organization is the primary organization in Hampton Roads, but it has other chapters in Virginia and along the East Coast.
No arrests were made Friday, but Potter said the documents uncovered during the search will help lead them to other criminal activity in Hampton Roads
Potter couldn't say exactly how long Matthews was under investigation.
The investigation remains ongoing.