Skip to main content

Mexican police nab drug-launching cannon near border

By Michael Martinez and Rafael Romo, CNN
updated 12:21 PM EST, Fri March 1, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Police in Mexico find a cannon attached to a compressor on an abandoned pickup truck
  • Cannon was apparently used to fire bags of drugs over the border, authorities say
  • In a separate incident last year, U.S. agents found cans of marijuana plopped in an Arizona field
  • Cannon is believed to have been involved in that incident, too, U.S. agent says

(CNN) -- Mexican smugglers have used tunnels, cars, boats and even the human body in attempts to sneak drugs past U.S. agents in an endless cat-and-mouse game on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Now smugglers have devised a new invention to ferry their contraband over the nearly militarized border: cannons.

An air-powered cannon fires bags of illegal drugs into the air from Mexico and plops them on U.S. soil, for nighttime retrieval by conspirators, U.S. authorities said Thursday.

Mexican authorities recently confiscated one such cannon in the bed of a pickup truck in Mexicali, police there said. Mexicali shares the international boundary with Calexico, California.

The confiscation of the cannon -- which Mexican authorities publicized in a photograph -- is the first that U.S. border and customs agents are aware of, a U.S. official said.

Community police take on Mexican cartels
The impact of forced budget cuts
Domestic drones in U.S. skies

"Well, I've been in (law enforcement) for over 20 years, and it seems like within the last five to 10 years they have gotten really, really creative in how they bring their drugs across," said Andy Adame, special operations supervisor for the Joint Field Command Arizona of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Border Patrol officers to be furloughed

Cannons apparently are smugglers' newest creation, said Adame, who's based in Tucson.

"This is the first one that I've seen," he said Thursday of the one seized by police in Mexicali. "That was actually a pretty good one.

"They are definitely out of the ordinary," Adame said.

In another incident, U.S. authorities found 33 cans of marijuana embedded in Arizona farmland last December, as if they dropped out of the sky, Adame said.

In fact, U.S. authorities believe a pneumatic cannon fired each canister 500 feet over the Colorado River from Mexico.

American agents notified Mexican authorities to search their side of the border, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement last December.

Only a carbon dioxide tank was found, the U.S. agency said.

The 33 cans contained a total of 85 pounds of marijuana, valued at $42,500, U.S. authorities said.

Aussie police make big meth haul

"The smugglers were trying to pick these up before daylight, but there was probably an agent in the area," Adame said, explaining why the smugglers on the U.S. side never collected the canisters that pockmarked the tilled land.

Last week, police in Mexicali found a cannon made from a large tube in the back of an abandoned Dodge Ram pickup truck, said spokesman Edgar Lopez.

The device operated with a compressor connected to the truck, Mexican authorities said.

No arrests have been made.

Last year, Mexican authorities seized a catapult that was used to launch bundled drugs, Lopez said. In connection with that incident, U.S. authorities seized marijuana near Naco, Arizona, that was apparently launched over the border fence, Adame said.

Guards accused of smuggling phones into prison

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:23 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
updated 4:23 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
He should be toddling around a playground. Instead, his tiny hands grip an AK-47.
updated 12:52 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
CNN's Will Ripley travels to North Korea, visiting an international wrestling festival and a slide-filled water park.
updated 5:20 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Our whole solar system appears to be inside a searing gas bubble, scientists say.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
In a raid on a luxury apartment complex, agents caught up with a French-Algerian man they accuse of bringing back terror to Europe.
updated 8:02 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
One journalist murdered, another still being held by ISIS -- a ransom negotiator talks to CNN about trying to get a hostage home alive.
updated 8:28 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Was a police officer justified in shooting and killing Michael Brown?
updated 12:54 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Don't like the country you live in? Meet the people who created their own "micronations."
updated 2:35 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
South Africa Music Legends stamps
Artist Hendrik Gericke puts a spotlight on iconic performers from South Africa in these incredible monochrome illustrations.
updated 5:46 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT