LASD Suspends Operations of Unit That Stopped Thousands of Innocent Latino Motorists on 5 Freeway

A deputy on the Los Angeles County sheriff's Domestic Highway Enforcement team inspects a car on the 5 Freeway in 2018. The Sheriff's Department has suspended operations by the team, which pulled over thousands of innocent Latino motorists in search of drugs. (Credit: Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

A deputy on the Los Angeles County sheriff's Domestic Highway Enforcement team inspects a car on the 5 Freeway in 2018. The Sheriff's Department has suspended operations by the team, which pulled over thousands of innocent Latino motorists in search of drugs. (Credit: Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has suspended operations by a team of deputies that stopped thousands of innocent Latino motorists on a stretch of the 5 Freeway in search of drugs and other contraband, an agency spokeswoman said Friday.

The move comes amid accusations of racial profiling by deputies after a Times investigation in October found that 69% of drivers stopped by the team were Latino and that two-thirds of them had their vehicles searched — a rate far higher than motorists of other racial and ethnic groups. Cars belonging to all other drivers were searched less than half the time, according to the newspaper’s analysis of Sheriff’s Department data.

Responding to an inquiry from The Times, department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said Friday that sheriff’s officials were gathering data on the Domestic Highway Enforcement team’s activities and would evaluate whether to resume operations some time in the future. The decision to shut down the unit was made Nov. 16, before newly elected Sheriff Alex Villanueva was sworn in this week, she said.

“The team is suspended until further notice,” Nishida said.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.