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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – At a press conference on Wednesday, Huntsville Police Department (HPD) along with several other emergency personnel discussed drug overdoses in 2022 and recent drug trafficking arrests made this past month.

During the month of July, North Alabama Drug Task Force Agents (NADTF) seized 11.2 pounds of fentanyl, 31 pounds of methamphetamine, 7,000 pressed fentanyl pills, 2.4 pounds of cocaine, 200 MDMA (ecstasy) tablets and 19 pounds of marijuana. Huntsville Police said they also recovered 19 firearms and $72,740 in drug proceeds.

NADTF said they arrested 32-year-old Juan Orlando Matthews Jr., 35-year-old Lawrence O’Neal Beasley and 34-year-old Willie Earl Grace Jr. for drug trafficking in connection to the July investigations.

Juan Orlando Matthews Jr., Willie Earl Grace Jr, and Lawrence O’Neal Beasley

“Drugs like fentanyl are destroying the lives of people in our community every day,” Deputy Chief DeWayne McCarver said at the briefing.

Authorities said first responders throughout Madison County and Huntsville responded to 543 overdoses since January. 40 of the overdoses resulted in deaths, according to HPD.

“Three milligrams of pure fentanyl is potent enough to kill an adult,” Madison County Coroner Dr. Tyler Berryhill explained. “To put that into perspective, that would be just three grains of sugar.”

In July alone, 143 overdoses were reported and about one-third of HPD’s reported overdoses were fentanyl-related.

“These overdoses put a strain on your emergency services personnel to include not only HPD but all area law enforcement agencies as well as Huntsville Fire & Rescue, HEMSI and the Madison County Coroner’s Office,” McCarver added. “We are grateful for the hard work of all our first responders to keep our community safe.”