SOMERSET – A Pulaski County man is behind bars following an investigation into a drug smuggling operation at an Eastern Kentucky Prison.

Larry Ellison, age 25, of Poplar Estates, Somerset, was arrested Monday on count of second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance following a sting operation at a local shopping center parking lot. He was additionally served with an outstanding Pulaski County indictment warrant, also for second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

“Through the unified efforts of Otter Creek Correctional Center Warden Randy Stovall and the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, UNITE detectives we were able to identify Mr. Ellison as a suspect,” said Dan Smoot, law enforcement director for UNITE. “We feel confident that we’ve stopped an on-going smuggling operation.”

Located on Highway 306 in tiny Floyd County community of Wheelwright, Otter Creek Correctional Center is a 656-bed minimum/medium security facility for men.

Warden Stovall contacted UNITE’s Big Sandy office on Tuesday, December 7, after corrections officials discovered 10 Suboxone strips concealed in a book addressed to one of the inmates, Smoot said. Payment for the drugs – estimated at $250 for the strips – was apparently made using the same method.

Suboxone, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, is used to treat opiate addiction. Buprenorphine is similar to opioids such as morphine, codeine and heroine but produces a less euphoric high. Naloxone blocks the effects of these opioids, but when administered under the tongue as directed doesn’t counter the actions of buprenorphine.

Through their investigation UNITE detectives identified Ellison as the sender and determined he lived in Pulaski County.

Pulaski County Sheriff’s deputies were contacted and assisted in locating Ellison, who was already wanted on unrelated drug charges.

Eventually detectives arranged for a meeting with Ellison in the parking lot of a North U.S. 27 shopping center to purchase Suboxone strips, Smoot said.

When sheriff’s deputies arrived they found Ellison sitting in his vehicle. He was arrested without incident. A search discovered a quantity of Suboxone strips.

Ellison faces promoting contraband and another second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance charge when the case is presented to a Floyd County Grand Jury.

Police are continuing their investigation to determine Ellison’s source for the drug and additional arrests are possible.

“This case is an example of great teamwork,” Smoot said. “Warden Stovall and his staff did an excellent job intercepting the package and offered full cooperation to the investigation.”

Located on Highway 306 in Wheelwright, Otter Creek Correctional Center is managed by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a full-service management provider that operates more than 60 facilities across the United States.