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Justice Department says NC sheriff and deputies discriminate against Latinos

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A two-year investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice says a North Carolina sheriff and his deputies routinely discriminate against Latinos.

Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson has been a proponent of a federal program that allowed local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of those they detain, potentially triggering 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 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 spokesman for Johnson said Tuesday he is still digesting the 11-page report, but will respond.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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