Almost two dozen civil rights groups are asking for the resignation of a North Carolina sheriff who has come under fire for incendiary statements about Latinos.

In a letter to Johnston County Commissioners, the groups contend that Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell is spreading his racist views to his employees.

In an article in the News & Observer of Raleigh, Bizzell was quoted as saying Mexicans were "trashy" and illegal immigrants were "breeding like rabbits."

Tony Asion, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group El Pueblo, has said Bizzell's comments give others in the county permission to make similar comments because he's a public official.

Sheriff's office spokeswoman Tammy Amaon said Bizzell wasn't immediately available to comment.