(YUMA, Ariz.) — Drug smugglers continue to show creativity in inventing new ways of getting drugs across the U.S. border from Mexico.
Border Patrol agents say they believe a pneumatic cannon was used to launch dozens of containers of marijuana over the border and 500 feet into Arizona on Friday. Eighty-five pounds of marijuana — tucked into soup cans and then inserted into larger sealed containers — were found in a field near the Colorado River in San Luis, Ariz.
After searching the surrounding area, agents spotted the carbon dioxide tank used to power the cannon that propelled the containers into U.S. territory. The smugglers launched the drug-filled projectiles from a position in a brushy area immediately south of the border fence. According to authorities, an accomplice was probably supposed to collect the containers but did not show up in time.
The contraband was discovered by a concerned citizen in a plowed field just northwest of San Luis before the U.S counterpart could collect it. After the Border Patrol was notified and searched the field, Mexican authorities also inspected their side of the border, but no arrests have been made.
“Because of our progress in targeting and obstructing movement, they can no longer just walk across the border,” Linwood Estes, a Border Patrol Agent in Yuma, Ariz., told ABC News. “The more and more successful we are, the more and more unique they become in trying to get the drugs across.”
Around two pounds of marijuana were packed into each soup can. The contraband had an estimated value of $42,500 and is scheduled for destruction.
While this specific technique is new to the Yuma area, Mexican pot smugglers have a track record of innovative tactics to sneak their drugs across the border.
In October, two creative bandits attempted to drive a car over the border fence by using a makeshift ramp just 20 miles west of Yuma. When the SUV became stuck on the fence, the men fled the scene before Border Patrol officers arrived.
In 2011, National Guard surveillance video caught drug smugglers using a medieval-style catapult to launch bales of marijuana across the border near Naco, Ariz. Mexican officials recovered the catapult after it was abandoned, and said the device was capable of launching packages weighing two kilograms.
Underground tunnels and ultra light aircraft have also been used in the past year.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Kathryn Vasel & Aaron Smith, CNN
Eliott C. McLaughlin, Joshua Berlinger, Ashley Fantz and Steve Almasy, CNN
Melissa Gray, CNN
Lois M. Collins, Deseret News