CUMBERLAND – A Letcher County man suspected of selling large amounts of prescription pills in the Tri-Cities area was arrested January 27 following an undercover investigation by Operation UNITE.

Cumberland Police Chief Mike Franks, Harlan County Sheriff Marvin Lipford, and Chief Deputy Winston Yeary accompanied two UNITE detectives to an apartment on Mastin Drive in Cumberland about 3:20 p.m. Thursday to serve a search warrant.

Officers found more than 100 pills – including Oxycodone and Morphine – as well as more than $1,200 in cash.

Police arrested 22-year-old Michael D. Morton, of Bicycle Lane, Whitesburg, on one count of first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance. He was lodged in the Harlan County Detention Center.

Additional drug-related charges against Morton are expected.

“Both UNITE and the Cumberland Police Department have received numerous tips of suspected drug trafficking from this location,” said Dan Smoot, law enforcement director for UNITE. “During the two weeks we were able to purchase drugs from this suspect on several occasions.”

Morton had apparently been staying at the apartment, which was rented to someone else, and dealing drugs while that person was away.

“Lately most of the drug transactions we have seen in this area are being conducted by people who don’t live in Harlan County,” Smoot said. “This makes it more difficult to locate and arrest them unless we receive tips from the public.”

Through December, UNITE has received 1,127 calls to its toll-free Drug Tip Line (1-866-424-4382) from Harlan County residents – the fourth highest number among the 29-county Fifth Congressional District.