Los Angeles County deputies disproportionately pull over and search Latino drivers according to a report released Thursday by the Los Angeles Times.
The Domestic Highway Enforcement Team is meant to focus on intercepting vehicles carrying drugs passing through the Grapevine, a mountain pass north of L.A.
But the Times' report revealed that two-thirds of drivers pulled over during that period were Latino. Additionally, the overwhelming majority of searches that found no illegal substances were of Latinos.
The Times analyzed more than 9,000 traffic stops by the sheriffs since 2012 as well as hundred of court cases for the report. Sixty-nine percent of the drivers pulled over by the deputies were Latino, compared with 40 percent among the 378,000 motorists pulled over in the same timeframe by California Highway Patrol.
But deputies found illegal items in their cars at a rate comparable to black or white drivers despite more searches being conducted on Latinos.
The team of deputies has run into legal problems in the past because of their tactics and credibility, including frequently seeking consent to search, resulting in 11 case being dismissed.
None of these legal challenges have stemmed from racial profiling, but several legal and law enforcement experts consulted by the Times said that the results of this report suggest deputies are violating Latino's civil rights.
A spokesperson for the sheriff’s department pointed The Hill toward a statement made by Assistant Sheriff Eddie Rivero on the report.
“We do not racially profile. We make stops based on behaviors and vehicle code violations, not ethnicity. Also, it is widely known that drug cartels utilize their own couriers to traffic narcotics across the southern border, along the I-5 freeway corridor, which runs from the U.S./Mexico Border throughout the state of California and beyond,” Rivero said.
—Updated at 2:58 p.m.