12/17/2014 02:00 EST | Updated 02/16/2015 05:59 EST

Project Forza targets alleged GTA organized crime group

A months-long police investigation has led to the arrests of a handful of men, whom police say have links to an alleged organized crime group operating in the Greater Toronto Area.

On Wednesday, police released details about Project Forza, an investigation that began in February and involved members of the York Regional Police, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

York Regional Police Insp. Michael Slack said police have found evidence of "serious criminality" in the group being investigated, which police allege is led by a man from Bolton, Ont.

"Charges identified against multiple accused include extortion, fraud, obstruct justice, parole violations, drug trafficking and firearms offences," Slack said.

At a news conference, Slack explained the background that led to the launch of Project Forza.

Slack said that Juan Fernandez and Fernando Pimental were killed in an "ambush-style attack" in Italy last year.

Prior to his death, Fernandez was "a prominent traditional organized crime figure operating in the Greater Toronto Area," Slack said.

Police allege that 30-year-old Daniele Carlo Ranieri, of Bolton, had acted as "an enforcer" for Fernandez and is alleged to be "a successor" to the slain man "maintaining control over his once-prominent street crew."

Ranieri has "an extensive criminal history" that includes time in federal prison, police say.

"Through his criminal endeavours and his time spent in federal prison, Ranieri has associated himself with members of traditional organized crime groups, street-gang members all with extensive criminal records for firearms, drugs and violent criminal offences," Slack said.

"Many of Ranieri's crime-group associates have a high propensity to commit violent crimes and have served time in prison for aggravated assault, forcible confinement and murder."

After months of investigation, search warrants were executed Tuesday in Bolton, Vaughan and in Toronto.

So far, a handful of people have been arrested.

Ranieri and another suspect, Lucas Graeme Day, of Toronto, are still at large. Arrests warrants have been issued for both men.

Slack said Ranieri is believed to be in Cuba, after travelling there about two weeks ago.

None of the charges against the accused have been proven in court.