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Sheriff Deputies Targeted Latinos

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File photo of sheriff car. (Credit: Dylan Lynch/Getty Images)

File photo of sheriff car. (Credit: Dylan Lynch/Getty Images)

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GRAHAM, N.C. (AP) — A two-year investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice has determined a North Carolina sheriff and his deputies routinely discriminated against Latinos.

Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson has been a vocal cheerleader for a federal program that allowed local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of those they stopped, potentially triggering their deportation. The Department of Homeland Security announced this year it was discontinuing the program following widespread complaints of racial profiling.

The Justice Department determined that Johnson’s deputies violated the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens by illegally targeting, stopping, detaining and arresting Latinos without probable cause. The agency also says Johnson obstructed the federal investigation, with members of his department fearing retaliation if they cooperated.

A message seeking comment from Johnson received no immediate response Tuesday.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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