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Whitesburg man charged after UNITE investigation

A Whitesburg man suspected of selling large amounts of prescription pills in the Cumberland area was arrested January 27 after an undercover investigation by Operation UNITE.

Michael D. Morton, of Bicycle Lane, Whitesburg, was charged with one count of first-degree traffi cking in a controlled substance after Cumberland Police Chief Mike Franks, Harlan County Sheriff Marvin Lipford, Chief Deputy Winston Yeary, and two UNITE detectives went to an apartment on Mastin Drive in Cumberland to serve a search warrant. Officers found more than 100 pills, including oxycodone and morphine, and more than $1,200 in cash.

Other drug-related charges against Morton, who is being held in the Harlan County Detention Center, 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.”

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