Long Story Short
Drug sniffing K9’s and trained officers make smuggling marijuana across the border a difficult task. As a result, drug traffickers have gotten creative. A van with an onboard 10-foot air cannon was found parked in Agua Prieta, Mexico. The town is along the border with Douglas, Arizona.
The Cannon Details
The van was reported stolen this summer in the city of Hermosillo. The roof of the can had a hole cut out for the long reaching cannon. The 10-foot air cannon can send up to 60 pounds of weed flying over the border.
Authorities found an air compressor in the van as well. This helped launch packages well over the fence so retrievers wouldn’t need to get too close to the actual border.
Vicente Paco, a spokesman of the US border patrol, noted the fact that agents encounter different smuggling methods every day.
Sending contraband over the border fence is nothing new. However, using air cannons is a rare sight for border patrol agents.
On the contrary, the most common way to get contraband over the fence is by tossing compressed softball-sized marijuana packages to the U.S. side. Afterwards, someone on the U.S. side retrieves the package for distribution across the states.
Medieval-style trebuchets have been used to smuggle drugs in the past as well. Moreover, the border patrol has found several catapult-type drug launchers over the years.
They are usually made of wood, but the latest one was all metal. In 2011, officials found a drug catapult near Naco, Arizona. The catapult was attached to a trailer that was abandoned on the Mexican side of the border.
That being said, cannons are only found once every few years, said Paco, spokesman of the US border patrol.
Ultralight aircraft smuggling
Smugglers have begun to use small aircraft to get large packages of marijuana over the border safely. The planes are described as gliders with engines, which have a seat for a single pilot.
In 2014, one of the planes was found crash-landed in the Laguna Mountains. Furthermore, authorities found 250 pounds of marijuana but no pilot.
These aircraft never land on the U.S. side of the border, unless they crash. The pilots must be stealthy when flying.
“The pilots fly at night to avoid detection and carry hundreds of pounds of drugs in a basket-type contraption beneath the aircraft. A lever allows the pilot to release the drugs from the air at a designated drop zone. The plane rarely touches the ground.”
“Essentially it’s a lawn mower with wings,” said Garcia, with San Diego’s Homeland Security Investigations Branch.
“They just come in, drop, and go right back,” he added.
Finally, from small aircraft to catapults, smugglers are finding new ways to traffic drugs every day. Marijuana becoming federally legal would free up a lot of the border patrols time. With legal, regulated, and quality marijuana on this side of the border, smugglers would be left with slim to no incentive. Then, the border patrol will only have to deal with the smuggling of harder drugs and illegal immigration.