Federal authorities are investigating a possible pattern of hate crimes against Hispanics on Long Island.
The Justice Department also is reviewing whether to open an investigation into how police in Suffolk County handled hate crime complaints.
The announcement Monday by a Justice Department spokesman in Washington follows the November stabbing death of an Ecuadorean immigrant in Patchogue. Prosecutors say Marcelo Lucero was targeted by teenagers because of his race.
Spokesman Scot Montrey says the Justice Department has stepped in to review allegations that Hispanics have been targeted and whether the attacks constituted civil rights violations. Since Lucero's death, several Hispanics have claimed that they were either afraid to report crimes because of their immigration status, or that when they did report attacks, nothing was done.
A Suffolk County police spokesman had no immediately comment.