A major drug bust in the Willmar area led officers to arrest 27 people over two days, and they anticipate arresting more.
The sweep began Wednesday and officers are still pursuing 11 more people, according to Sgt. Ross Ardoff with the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office and commander of the drug and gang task force.
"This is an operation where the individuals are not necessarily selling drugs together," Ardoff said. "They're selling drugs in the same area. But they're not necessarily related defendants."
Most of those arrested have been charged with selling drugs --- all felony offenses. They range from low-level felony of fifth-degree sale, up to first-degree sale. Defendants appeared in court Thursday, and more appearances are set for Friday, Ardoff said.
The multi-county operation focused on Willmar because the majority of the people that officers found selling drugs lived in Willmar, Ardoff explained.
The cases began in January when investigators worked with informants who purchased drugs from suspects. They purchased marijuana, synthetic cannibinoids, prescription drugs, cocaine and methamphetamine, Ardoff said.
He said 12 officers made arrests Wednesday. They came from the Willmar Police Department, Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office, Montevideo Police Department, Meeker County Sheriff's Office, Yellow Medicine County Sheriff's Office, and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
"The drug problem in Willmar does exist, and the reason the number of defendants is so high is because there are a lot of individuals dealing drugs in the city of Willmar," Ardoff said. "Our focus is to curtail that activity and send a message to the dealers that it won't be tolerated."
In his approximately 17 years as an officer, Ardoff said he's never seen a drug bust with so many arrests.