By Karen Blackledge
The Danville News
DANVILLE — A Derry Township woman said her arrest for operating a four-pot methamphetamine lab in her home was “the first night of the rest of my life.”
“It’s a good night,” Allison Marie Swisher, 48, of 107 Mexico Road, said in between a few sobs.
She was arraigned shortly after 2 a.m. today by Montour County District Judge Marvin Shrawder who committed her to jail in lieu of $250,000 straight bail.
Swisher had been scheduled to be sentenced today in county court on driving while under the influence of meth.
A vice and narcotics unit trooper charged her with operating a lab where four one-pot meth cookers were found along with an amount of cooked meth.
Police said there were chemicals, precursors and items commonly found and used in the production of meth. After serving a search warrant, police said Swisher admitted she cooked meth earlier in the evening. Police said she had some of the finished product sitting on a dresser in her bedroom. The Northumberland Montour County Task Force, troopers from the clandestine lab unit and Montoursville’s vice and narcotics were part of the raid.
This was the second known meth lab found in Montour County. The first was discovered several months earlier in Danville, resulting in a woman’s arrest.
Montour County District Attorney Rebecca Warren said Swisher was previously arrested for possession with intent to deliver in 1991. She said Swisher has a pending case of conspiracy to deliver meth where Shrawder conducted her preliminary hearing two weeks ago.
Swisher told Shrawder she has a drug and alcohol problem. Warren requested $250,000 straight bail because of the severity of the charges and wanting her to remain in jail pending the outcome of the case. Warren said Swisher was able to post bail on previous charges. “I have no more money,” Swisher said.
Two undercover officers brought Swisher, who was covered by a yellow slicker, to her arraignment. Danville Police Sgt. William Wilt III, of the task force, assisted.
“Meth doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to anybody. It’s like an entity – it takes over and it kills your soul. I’m relieved,” said Swisher who admitted using the drug for more than a year. Saying she had been sober for 20 years, she said she had sought help but she couldn’t get a counseling appointment until September or October. “I don’t know what the answer is. How to get rid of evil,” she said.
“People shouldn’t have such hatred for me. In kindergarten they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said a vet or a mom,” she said. “Maybe when I grow up I’ll help addicts,” said Swisher whose youngest child is 10.
She told Shrawder she has relatives in the area and lived at her home 25 years.
According to the charges, an undercover trooper drove a confidential informant to Swisher’s home at about 10:44 p.m. Monday. Once inside, Swisher became suspicious of the vehicle the trooper was in and asked the informant if he or she was an informant. The informant said no and Swisher showed the informant an amount of meth and wanted the informant to use it, police said. The informant said he or she wasn’t going to use it unless Swisher sold it to the informant.
Swisher then asked the informant to stay there and her cook meth, police said. The informant said he or she could not because a spouse was coming home from work. The informant and Swisher than left the home and went outside to talk with the undercover officer. After some small talk, the informant and officer left.
The informant told police a blue soft cooler with a zipper top was in the home containing items related to making meth. The informant saw rubber tubing, pseudoephedrine pills in a box, cold packs, pliers, funnels, a glass jar with a yellow tinted liquid, an empty water bottle and a water bottle containing a cloudy liquid with black chunks. The informant told police he or she had been to the home at least three dozen times to buy meth.
Police said the informant saw Swisher cook meth in different stages but hadn’t seen the process from start to finish. The informant saw Swisher with a jar containing salt and an unknown chemical which produced a gas and Swisher using rubber tubing she placed into a reaction vessel with it beginning to crystallize. The informant told police Swisher was seen drying meth in the oven after filtering it with coffee filters.
Tpr. Brett Herbst charged Swisher with one count of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, four counts of manufacturing a controlled substance, one count of possession of a controlled substance, one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, four counts of possessing liquefied ammonia gas, precursors and chemicals including red phosphorus, hypophosophoric acid, ammonium sulfate, phosphourus, iodine, hydriodic acid, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, lithium, sodium potassium and sassafras oil, four counts of operating a meth lab and one count of risking a catastrophe.
Warren thanked Washingtonville Fire Chief Gary Roberts and the Liberty Township Fire Company for responding to the home because of the explosive nature of the chemicals.