Thunder Bay Police say one of northwestern Ontario's most significant criminal organizations has been dismantled with the arrests of several people on drug-related charges, including the alleged head of the network.

The arrests are the continuation of Project Dolphin, an extensive undercover investigation started in 2010 in conjunction with the RCMP, OPP, Toronto Police Service and the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service.

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At a news conference Thursday, Thunder Bay Police Chief J.P. Levesque said a criminal organization allegedly used sophisticated methods for communications relating to the trafficking and distribution of cocaine, marijuana and oxycodone. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

Thunder Bay Police Chief J.P. Levesque briefed reporters about the case at a news conference Thursday.

Police allege the criminal organization used sophisticated methods for communications relating to the trafficking and distribution of cocaine, marijuana and oxycodone. They said the organization has contacts with other criminal enterprises — including the Hells Angels and other groups — in western Canada and Montreal.

Levesque said 50 police officers executed search warrants on Wednesday, starting at 7 a.m. and lasting well into the night. They made arrests at five Thunder Bay residences. 

John Harry Tsekouras, 38, of Thunder Bay faces numerous charges, including being a director of a criminal organization and trafficking. 

Four other men — Keith John Ritchie, 28, Roberto Dennis Chiodo, 42, Travis Garth Gordon, 27, Rory Pelletier, 41 — are charged with being participants in a criminal organization.

A 27-year-old man, who has not yet been named, is facing new charges. He has been in custody since another series of Project Dolphin arrests last June. 

The accused arrested on Wednesday are being held pending a bail hearing. Levesque said Project Dolphin has now resulted in seizures of more than $2 million in illicit drugs and nearly half a million dollars in cash and property.