Those of you old enough to have watched “The Lone Ranger” on television growing up in the 1950s will recognize the heading here—it was the question often asked after the masked Texas ranger had gotten retribution or cured an injustice of some sort.

Immigrant targets of the investigator in New Jersey a couple weeks back are now asking themselves the same question after the NJ Department of Health denied that any of its investigators were involved in the raw dairy probe described in my previous post. The investigator visited the homes of at least four raw milk drop sites, taking photos of coolers containing raw dairy products, and warning the residents that they could be fined for allowing their homes to be used for product pickups by food club members.

The drop site residents, afraid of the investigator, quickly complied with his request to open coolers and allow photos to be taken. No one thought to ask for a search warrant, or even to demand an ID or a business card. They just wanted the investigator to move on.

All thought the investigator was from the NJ Department of Health, and when I inquired with the agency last Friday, providing details of what the drop site residents had reported, the agency seemed to effectively confirm its involvement by issuing a one-sentence statement saying it was “unable to confirm or deny if an investigation is ongoing.”

By yesterday, though, the response had changed. The spokeswoman who had sent the original hedge now was adamant: “Your story is erroneous. No one from the New Jersey Department of Health has visited these homes nor conducted an investigation targeting a particular population of people. Please correct this immediately.”

When I reminded her that I had provided details about my understanding of the investigation in my original inquiry, and questioned if the agency was shifting its stance, I received another denial: “Those were not our inspectors at the residences you wrote about. I want to be clear it was not an inspector with the New Jersey Department of Health, as it currently says in your story.”

So, whose inspector might it have been? I learned in some further inquiries that an investigator or investigators may well have been sent out by one or more county health departments in New Jersey. I will continue checking. In the meantime, I have adjusted my previous post to reflect the agency’s denial.