Since 2012, deputies in a specialized narcotics unit of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department have pulled over thousands of cars on a rural stretch of the 5 Freeway, California's major north-south artery. A Times analysis of the unit's traffic stops found Latino drivers are stopped and searched far more frequently than other motorists - a disparity that translated into thousands of innocent people being detained by deputies acting on little more than a hunch. In several cases, federal judges ruled deputies violated people's constitutional rights. In response to The Times' investigation, the Sheriff's Department recently suspended the unit's operations.
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