Mexico Goes Medieval on Your Grass

By Dirk Hanson 03/26/11
Weed-firing catapults are the latest in border smuggling.
Photo via nexgadget

The DEA's efforts to slow the drug trade on the the Mexican border may actually be working, if increasingly fanciful maneuvers by Mexican narcos are any guide. Over the past few months, the nation's massive drug cartels have built elaborate underground tunnels, deployed a fleet of small submarines, and trained dozens of coke-carrying carrier pigeons in an effort to pipe their pot into the United States. Frustrated by the new high-tech interception methods employed by the DEA, many cartel capos are responding in kind, employing a vast fleet of hackers, graphologists and technology analysts to counter American's edge. But stuck in a small border town named Naco, a posse of B-list pushers decided to take on the DEA the old-fashioned way. Working out of an abandoned factory close to Arizona, the industrious narcos spent several months handcrafting a 10-foot wooden catapult based on a medieval original that was designed to hurl four-and-a-half pound bales of pot over the border into Arizona every half hour. But the devious device's downfall was its enormous size. Hours after they carried the contraption outside, the catapult was captured on surveillance tape by the US National Guard. Soon after, the medieval Mexicans were locked up in jail, and the catapult was dispatched to an undisclosed location. While we acknowledge their innovation, we're still uncertain how the incident should be classified from a diplomatic standpoint: as an act of war or as a foreign aid package?

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]