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Several people charged in massive drug bust in US illegally, authorities say

At least nine of the 15 suspects allegedly part of a massive international drug trafficking ring operating in Southern New England were living illegally in the United States, according to US Assistant Attorney Stephen Dambruch. (WJAR)

At least nine of the 15 suspects allegedly part of a massive international drug trafficking ring operation in Southern New England were living illegally in the United States, according to US Assistant Attorney Stephen Dambruch.

“They have never been legal residents. They are illegally in the United States. They have been previously deported, and those deportations occurred after they were convicted of other drugs trafficking offenses,” Dambruch said.

The news comes amid a furious and divisive debate about illegal immigration, particularly in Providence.

Jerry Sanchez lives in a shelter in the capital city. He picks through garbage for metal that he sells at 50 cents per pound.

“I pick up cans. My cans. Get up at 5 o’clock in the morning, pick up cans, and with that I buy me a good plate of rice and beans.”

His route takes him right past a building in Olneyville, where police said drug dealers stashed their product -- drug dealers who were in the country illegally.

“If people are committing crimes, especially violent crimes, and they're undocumented, they should be deported,” Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said. “There's no debate there.”

The suspects are accused of pretending to be Puerto Rican.

Sanchez was born in Puerto Rico and is a legal resident. He said chooses not to beg because he feels he should work for himself and resents others who make immigrants -- even illegal immigrants -- look bad.

“(They) ruin it for everybody else because not everybody came here to sell drug, you know? They come to make an honest living,” he said. “These people come across the border to sell drugs. They ruin the whole thing for the people (who are) legit here (and) trying to make good money.”

If true, they're not good people in anyone's eyes -- even someone who collects cans for his supper.

Click here to learn more about the drug bust.

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