SALYERSVILLE – Three people face drug charges following an Operation UNITE investigation into prescription pills being brought into Magoffin County from Ohio.

Elliot Gipson, 32, and his wife, 39-year-old Erma Gipson, both of Lima, Ohio, were arrested by UNITE detectives on Monday, April 8, and charged with third-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

The couple was out on bond for unrelated charges brought by the Magoffin County Sheriff’s Office several months ago, said Keith Napier, Big Sandy Task Force manager for UNITE.

Salyersville resident Melissa Wheeler, 33, was subsequently arrested by Magoffin County sheriff’s deputies and charged with third-degree conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance.

The arrests came following a month-long investigation into reports of Xanax being regularly brought into the county for illegal distribution, Napier said. “They were bringing 200 to 300 pills twice a month into the community.”

As a result of their investigation, UNITE detectives were able to set up a controlled purchase of pills on Monday in the parking lot of a local fast-food restaurant.

“We recovered a quantity of Xanax packaged for sale and approximately $4,800 in cash,” Napier said, noting they “were finishing up a three-day trafficking binge and preparing to head back to Ohio.

Shortly after the arrests, sheriff’s deputies were able to launch a secondary undercover operation that resulted in Wheeler being arrested when she showed up to purchase pills from the Gipsons.

All three were lodged in the Johnson County Detention Center.