Canine Alert Leads to Felony Drug Charges During Traffic Stop

A traffic stop on Wednesday evening led to the arrest of two suspects after a drug detector canine alerted to the vehicle. Heroin, Cocaine, Marijuana, Methamphetamine and pills were located in the vehicle during the search and investigation. Matthew Nero (3/9/96) and Alexa Powers (9/7/00) were arrested on felony charges related to the investigation.

Matthew Nero was stopped after driving past a Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Deputy on Tamiami Trail near Moss Street in Port Charlotte. The deputy was operating stationary radar and observed Nero’s speed to be 65mph in a 50mph zone. The deputy pulled Matthew Nero over for the traffic infraction.

The deputy then made contact with Matthew Nero and the front seat passenger Alexa Powers. Throughout the initial request for vehicle and insurance documents the deputy noted exceptionally nervous behavior displayed by both subjects. The deputy also observed a pill crusher with white powder in it laying on the center console surrounded by broken and open clear capsules.

K9 Scar

The deputy spoke to Nero outside of the vehicle about the observed pill crusher, for which Nero stated Powers used it for medication related to a heart condition. Nero declined consent to search the vehicle and a member of the CCSO Canine Unit was called to the traffic stop. DFC Sella and K9 Scar arrived on scene and conducted a free air sniff around the vehicle. K9 Scar gave a positive alert for the presence of illegal drugs. When Nero was advised of the alert, he stated to deputies that he had 18 grams of marijuana in the vehicle.

A lock box was located in the truck containing 28.7 grams of marijuana, 3 grams of large pink crystals (field test positive for methamphetamine), 0.4 grams white crystal substance (field test positive for methamphetamine), 1 suspected alprazolam bar (no markings), several pieces of an unidentifiable green pill, 3 hypodermic needles, multiple Inositol capsules (a cocaine cutting agent), and a box for a digital scale. The scale would later be found in Powers’ purse covered in a white powder residue.

Nero was placed into custody, at which time he gave a black jacket he was wearing to Powers. In a purse belonging to Powers, deputies located a syringe containing 30 units of a clear liquid (field test positive for methamphetamine) and a baggie containing a pink crystal substance (field test positive for methamphetamine). Powers was placed into custody.

A female deputy arrived to search Powers, including Nero’s black jacket she was now wearing. A small interior pocket was located in the jacket, containing a bundle of brown paper that had two large baggies wrapped inside it. One baggie contained 17.2 grams of a white powdery substance (field test positive for cocaine) and the other bag contained 15 grams of a brown powder substance (field test positive for heroin).

Nero was advised that that possession of any other drugs hidden on his person would be an additional charge when he entered the jail. Nero began reaching into the back of his pants stating “I have some stuff in my a**crack, I will get it. I don’t want you reaching in there.” Nero then shook out of his pants a Glad ziplock baggie containing 2.7 grams of a white powder substance (field test positive for cocaine) and a Glad ziplock bag containing 15 grams of a brown powder substance (field test positive for heroin).

The currency in Nero’s possession and was comprised of mostly $20 bills bundled in a manner commonly seen in street level narcotics sales.


Matthew Nero was arrested for Possession of Heroin in excess of 10 grams, Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Sell, Possession of a Controlled Substance (methamphetamine), Possession of Marijuana over 20 grams, Possession of a Controlled Substance (Alprazolam) and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Alexa Powers was arrested for Possession of a Controlled Substance (methamphetamine) and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

If you have information on drug sales or activity occurring in Charlotte County, you can submit a tip anonymously through our mobile app.

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