A trip to the Dominican Republic was supposed to be an eight-day trip for three Haitian brothers to reconnect with family living in the country.
Halfway through the July 2020 trip, things took a turn. Now, a year later, the brothers are fighting for their rights and a day in court to come back to the United States.
The brothers allege they were set up with a four-pound package of marijuana planted in their white Hyundai Tucson rental car.
In video footage obtained by the Miami Herald and the McClatchy Washington Bureau, there’s proof that someone planted the brown package under their rental car as they waited for their tow truck.
Since then, they have lost college scholarships, jobs, their cars repossessed and their driver’s license suspended. All of this comes after they were arrested for marijuana in the Dominican Republic, even with proof that someone else did the crime.
“We’ve lost everything: jobs, cars, everything,” Lonelson Nalus told the Miami Herald, adding the group included his two brothers from Florida, and an older brother, and a friend who lives in the Dominican Republic. “It’s really hard being [in] a country that we came to for the first time, for eight days, and we don’t speak the language.”
The Nalus brothers live in Delray Beach, Florida. One is a U.S. Citizen and two are permanent residents.
Lonelson, 25, may have to spend his 26th birthday in the Dominican Republic. His brother John Nalus, 21, was supposed to attend Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama, on a soccer scholarship, but may miss out for a second straight year.
Lovinsky Nalus, 27, had his car repossessed after their dad couldn’t continue making the payments. He also has not been able to take care of his four-year-old child.
A fourth brother, Djhonson, 33, had temporarily moved to the Dominican Republic to escape the violence in Haiti. He was only supposed to be in the Dominican Republic until his interview with the U.S. embassy for permission to travel to the U.S. The interview was scheduled for August 2020, and because of the arrest, he couldn’t make the appointment, and now his application status is unknown.
Now, the Haitian brothers are waiting on their court hearing in the Dominican Republic that has been delayed three times because prosecutors have not shown up to court.
On top of that, there seems to have been little official public push to help the bothers, even though one is a U.S. citizen.