While some of the wacky ideas that drug smugglers come up with often make you wonder if they are dipping into their own products, this one might have worked. The idea is to remain on Mexican soil and simply fling your product over the fence into the U.S. where others can recover it.
Here, a picture is worth a thousand words. The catapult (more properly, in this case a trebuchet) is made out of a trailer frame for easy towing to the launch site. The trailer then doubles as a way to carry your “ammunition.” The ammunition in this incident was small bales of marijuana, but the method could easily be adopted to other drugs as well.
The smugglers were spotted on camera and by the time authorities arrived, they had abandoned their trebuchet along with some of the marijuana they were hurling.
So, along with the mini-subs, tunnels and other inventive technologies, we have an ancient siege device used just it was intended – throwing things over a wall. In this case, the castle wall is the U.S. border fence.
Strangely, this dip into the ancient eliminates problems smugglers have when they recruit mules to do essentially the same task. By throwing drugs over the fence into the desert, they can be picked up when the coast is clear and there are no tracks or running illegals to give the game away.
It’s actually a bit of an embarrassment for the fence builders. In the photograph above, you can see our best fence design in the background. Using middle-aged technology to defeat it shines a light on the cost disparities involved. The fence costs millions of dollars a mile to construct and maintain. The purpose is to reduce manpower on the U.S. side. Compare that to the hundreds of dollars spent on a homemade catapult and the problem is obvious. The smugglers hold the economic cards in this game and even if they suffer many losses, they still win. There is no way to know how common or how often this catapult idea has already been used in the past. The only thing we know for sure is that there doesn’t seem to be any shortages in the drug market.
Perhaps, in the end, it highlights how important the demand side of the supply and demand equation is. As much as we struggle to limit the supply, demand seems to overwhelm our efforts.