Mexican gangs using catapults to hurl pot into US
HERMOSILLO, Mexico – Drug smugglers are using an ancient invention as a new way to move marijuana across the border from Mexico to Arizona.
The discovery of two "drug catapults" in the Mexican state of Sonora marks the latest twist in the cat-and-mouse game traffickers play with authorities.
U.S. National Guard troops operating a remote surveillance system at the Naco Border Patrol Station say they observed several people preparing a catapult and launching packages over the fence late last week.
A Mexican army officer says the 3-yard (3-meter) tall catapult was found about 20 yards (20 meters) from the U.S. border on a flatbed towed by a sports utility vehicle.
The officer says the catapult was capable of launching 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms) of marijuana at a time. He says soldiers seized 35 pounds (16 kilograms) of pot, the vehicle and the catapult.
The smugglers left before they could be captured. The surveillance video of them using the catapult was released Wednesday.
A second catapult was discovered Thursday in near Agua Prieta, another border town. Another army officer in that area said an anonymous tip led soldiers to the scene and the catapult was similar to the first.
Mexican officials say it is the first time they have seen this smuggling method used by local traffickers.
Mexican traffickers have previously used planes, tunnels, vehicles, boats and couriers to smuggle drugs into the United States. Colombian drug traffickers have even used homemade submarines.