CUMBERLAND – Less than five hours after citizen tips alerted police of out-of-state men selling drugs in the Tri-Cities area two people were behind bars.

“With the help of the Cumberland Police Department we were able to set up an undercover buy from these men,” said Dan Smoot, law enforcement director for Operation UNITE. “They were subsequently arrested before they were able to drive out of the store parking lot.”

Police arrested 48-year-old Hubert Wayne Simmons, of Southeast Adams Street, High Springs, Florida, and 44-year-old Jimmy D. Sturgill, of Bear Fork Road, Pound, Virginia.

Simmons, who was driving, was charged by UNITE with first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance (Oycontin) and first-degree possession of a controlled substance (Oxycontin). Cumberland Police also charged him with driving under the influence of drugs.

Sturgill was charged by UNITE with first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance (Oxycontin), first-degree possession of a controlled substance (Oxycontin) and second-degree possession of a controlled substance (Hydrocodone).

Both men were lodged in the Harlan County Detention Center.

Law enforcement officials began receiving complaints around lunchtime that individuals from out of the area were selling drugs in the Cumberland-Benham-Lynch area of eastern Harlan County, Smoot stated.

About 5:30 p.m., after locating the men in a supermarket parking lot in Cumberland, UNITE detectives and Cumberland Police Sgt. Kenny Raleigh were able to arrange for the purchase of 10 Oxycontin pills from Sturgill, who then turned the money over to Simmons.

Before they were able to leave the parking lot Raleigh conducted a traffic stop and the pair were arrested.

Police recovered the cash, a prescription bottle containing more than six dozen pills – less than one-third of the 240 pills obtained from a Florida physician a week earlier, and a Bersa 380 handgun from the vehicle. Police also impounded Simmons’ extended cab pickup truck.

“Harlan County residents have made 1,127 tips to UNITE’s drug tipline (1-866-424-4382) – the fourth highest number among the 29 counties served by UNITE,” Smoot said. “The concern and vigilance shown by citizens is helping UNITE counter drug activity in this area. This case is a prime example of what can be accomplished with people care about their community.”