The U.S. Department of Justice is stepping up its investigation into the office of Joe Arpaio, the controversial sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., and a nationally known opponent of illegal immigration.

DOJ attorneys filed a complaint Thursday in U.S. District Court in Arizona, alleging that Arpaio and his staff have obstructed their investigation. The department wants to know whether the sheriff’s office is discriminating based on national origin in its police practices and jail operations, according to the 10-page complaint (pdf).

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