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 10:42 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Successful launch of lunar orbiter, seen as a precursor for a planned mission to the surface of the moon, marks significant advance for the country's space program.
updated 3:15 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
updated 6:08 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
CEO's 30-min Putonghua chat is the perfect charm offensive for Facebook's last untapped market.
updated 11:45 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
updated 4:58 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
updated 10:14 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
updated 11:33 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
updated 12:07 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
updated 1:48 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
updated 5:59 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
updated 6:21 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT