Alamance County Sheriff Terry S. Johnson stands to the side as his attorney, Chuck Kitchens, speaks to reporters Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, in Graham, N.C. A two-year investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice has found that Johnson and his deputies routinely discriminated against Latinos by making unwarranted arrests with the intent of maximizing deportations. (AP Photo/Burlington Times-News, Scott Muthersbaugh)

Alamance County Sheriff Terry S. Johnson stands to the side as his attorney, Chuck Kitchens, speaks to reporters Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, in Graham, N.C. A two-year investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice has found that Johnson and his deputies routinely discriminated against Latinos by making unwarranted arrests with the intent of maximizing deportations. (AP Photo/Burlington Times-News, Scott Muthersbaugh)

Feds file civil rights complaint against NC sheriff for discriminating against Latinos

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department has filed a civil rights complaint against a North Carolina sheriff over what it says is his systematic racial profiling of Latinos.

The suit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court follows a two-year investigation during which federal authorities concluded Alamance County Sheriff Terry S. Johnson and his deputies made unwarranted arrests with the goal of maximizing deportations.

Federal officials say Johnson violated the constitutional rights of numerous U.S. citizens by illegally targeting and detaining Latinos without probable cause. The complaint also alleges Johnson sought to obstruct the federal investigation by withholding documents and falsifying records.

Johnson is a Republican first elected in 2002. He says the probe is politically motivated. Johnson’s department has already been suspended from a program to screen the immigration status of jail inmates.

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