Tim Counts, a spokesman for the Immigration, Customs and Enforcement Agency, says most of the people taken in custody are illegal immigrants with criminal records.
"Based on investigations, we are looking for specific individuals," says Counts. "Now having said that, we often encounter people who are in the country illegally that we were not initially looking for, and we often arrest those individuals as well."
Maria Diaz, who works with the Latino community in Willmar, says the arrests started on Tuesday morning.
"I got reports from community members that immigration had gone to their homes and taken people to Minneapolis," says Diaz. "I thought it was just an isolated incident, one or two maybe, and then it just going for the whole day."
Diaz estimates as many as 100 people have been taken into custody. ICE officials say because this is an ongoing operation, they won't say when the arrests began or confirm how many people have been arrested.
Willmar, a city of 19,000, is located about 100 miles west of the Twin Cities. One of its major employers is the Jennie-O turkey processing plant, which has some 1,500 employees.