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Huntsville Police discuss 2022 drug overdoses, recent arrests

Published on August 17, 2022

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The Huntsville Police Department (HPD) seized substantial amounts of fentanyl and other narcotics in the Huntsville area during July.

North Alabama Drug Task Force Agents (NADTF) seized 11.2 pounds on fentanyl, 31 pounds of methamphetamine, 7,000 pressed fentanyl pills, 2.4 pounds of cocaine, 200 MDMA tablets and 19 pounds of marijuana. Agents also recovered 19 firearms and $72,740 in drug proceeds.

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

“Drugs like fentanyl are destroying the lives of people in our community every day,” Deputy Chief DeWayne McCarver said. “I am so thankful for the hard work and dedication of our NADTF Agents to get these dangerous drugs off our streets.”

Since January of 2022, first responders in Huntsville and Madison County have responded to 543 overdoses, of those, 40 resulted in deaths.

“We want to remind the community that the opioid epidemic is still thriving, and we are out on the front lines fighting,” said NADTF Sgt. Joe Kennington. “Our NADTF Agents are working to stop those who prey on those battling addiction.”

Of the 543 overdoses, 143 occurred during the month of July which is an average of more than four overdoses per day. About one-third of our overdoses are currently confirmed to be fentanyl-related.

“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.”

“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.”