— A pair of sexagenarians were arrested by county law enforcers for allegedly driving to Muskogee to sell hundreds of prescription painkillers.
Lt. Mike Grace of the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office said deputies and the Muskogee police Special Investigations Unit arrested Jimmie Warren Sumpter, 67, and Caroline Sue Hawbaker, 66, on Sunday afternoon.
Sumpter and Hawbaker were booked into the Muskogee County/City Detention Center on complaints of possession of controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute and unlawful delivery of narcotic.
Hawbaker’s bond was set at $20,000. Sumpter’s was set at $30,000.
Grace said the pair drove from Maysville, about an hour south of Oklahoma City, to Muskogee to sell a total of 359 pills to an undercover deputy.
“We’d received a tip that concerned these people selling a lot of pills,” he said. “We made contact with them on three or four different occasions, and made a deal on these pills for them to bring this many in.”
Grace said the couple agreed to transport the pills for $6 a pill, putting the value of the narcotics at $2,154.
“Our belief is that they’ve been doing this for a while,” he said. “We took a little more than $4,600 off them that we feel was gained off these pill sales.”
Grace said prescription pain medication addiction is a rising problem in this area.
“We’re focusing on this because it’s such a big problem, it’s outrageous,” he said. “You stop and think about it, $2,100 is a lot of money for pills. That just shows what kind of problem it is. I mean, while we were on the phone with them, they made two separate deals with other people. This was no small-time thing.”
Lindsey Roberts, regional prevention coordination director at Muskogee’s Nonprofit Resource Center, said the community faces a large problem with prescription medication.
“We really don’t want any additional drugs to get into the community,” Roberts said. “We have enough locally that we’re fighting against. I’m glad (law enforcement) is looking out for that sort of thing.”
Roberts said Muskogee County ranks sixth in the state for most prescription (opiate) indicators (treatment, deaths, etc.) by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Roberts said the county’s rate of deaths related to painkiller abuse is slightly higher (13.5 per 100,000 people) than the state rate (13 per 100,000.)
“Some people continue to incorrectly believe that prescription drugs are less dangerous than illegal street drugs,” Roberts said. “We are starting to see a shift in the thinking of community members in that they see prescription abuse as a serious problem.”
Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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