For “Johnny,” the dream of a better life in the United States is over, he said.

One of 49 people indicted last year as part of Operation Meth Merchant, he, along with his wife, “Jane,” pleaded guilty to charges they sold ingredients to make methamphetamine knowing the people they sold it to were going to make the drug. The couple, who own an area convenience store, asked that their real names not be used in this story.

They said they came to Dalton seven years ago and purchased the convenience store. The store had been paid off for only six months when they were arrested as part of Operation Meth Merchant last June in front of their young children.

Both said they know nothing about methamphetamine or how to make it.

“We didn’t even understand what we were charged with,” Johnny said. “We don’t know anything about drugs.”

Jane said she thought the customers were going to make “medhiki Baaji,” a Mediterranean dish similar to spinach.

“She mentioned to me that they were going to char it,” Johnny said.

Both pleaded guilty after spending $100,000 on legal fees and being told by their attorneys they probably wouldn’t get a fair trial, they said.

Their customers have stood by them, they said.

“We have had the store for seven years,” Johnny said. “We were in jail for three days. We had customers come up to us (after our release from jail) and hug us and we would start crying.”

The couple are eligible to be deported to India since they have been convicted of a federal aggravated felony and are not U.S. citizens. Immigration can deport them at any time, they said.

“We will be penniless in India,” Johnny said. “We have no home, no life there.”

They said their only hope is that a federal judge will rule in favor of a motion filed by the American Civil Liberties Union asking that the prosecutions be dismissed on grounds of selective prosecution. If that happens, their conviction would be erased and they would not face deportation.

“We are so tired,” Johnny said. “Our children are afraid to approach us because of the way we are. They asked to go to Disney World. If we are deported, they will never see Disney World.”

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