Marion County sheriff’s K-9 unit nabs suspect who fled in vehicle with stolen license tag

A Marion County sheriff’s K-9 unit is being lauded for apprehending a 46-year-old man who fled from Belleview Police officers.

Marion County sheriff’s Cpl. Matt Bowers and his K-9 partner, OTOW, are being praised for apprehending 46-year-old Rico Valdez Smith, who is accused of fleeing from Belleview Police officers while driving a vehicle with a stolen license tag on it.

Sheriff’s Cpl. Matt Bowers and his K-9 partner, OTOW, were called to assist after Belleview officers attempted to stop a vehicle with a stolen license tag that was being driven by Rico Valdez Smith. Sheriff’s Dep. Ashlyn Welchel also had responded to help and after a short pursuit, Smith stopped his vehicle and fled on foot.

A short time later, Bowers and OTOW arrived and after a long track, the K-9 dog apprehended Smith. He was then transported to the Marion County Jail and charged with fleeing and eluding, resisting arrest, possession of drug paraphernalia (glass pipes containing cocaine), petit theft, driving while license suspended and violation of probation. He is being held on $8,500 on the new charges and no bond on the three probation violations and is due in court Dec. 3 at 9 a.m.