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The Bulletin

The latest technology for smuggling drugs

Posting in Technology

Blast from the past. Before there were pneumatic cannons, there were medieval catapults, such as the replica above at Chateau dex Baux, France. Smugglers are using both to launch marijuana from Mexico into the U.S.

There are some new devices at play in the cat and mouse game of sneaking dope across international boundaries.

"The U.S. border patrol says Mexican drug traffickers have come up with a new way of smuggling marijuana - firing it across the border fence with a pneumatic cannon," BBC Radio 4's Today Programme announced in a news report yesterday (around 2 hours 10 minutes in the audio link, which stays live for a week after posting).

"Border patrol agents in Arizona found nearly 90 pounds of marijuana packed into cans," newsreader Susan Rae continues. "A gun propelled by carbon dioxide was discovered on the Mexican side."

With a pinch of SmartPlanet salt, Rae recognizes the innovative spirit at work.

Replace Monty Python's cow with hooch, and you have a contraband transport device (CTD).

"Drug traffickers have responded to tighter border security with a range of innovations including tunnels, microlight aircraft, and medieval style catapults."

There you have it. The innovation buzz is reaching far and wide in society and the economy, even to the shadier side.

But what about that other buzzword - collaboration? Are these guys "crowdsourcing" those contraptions? (Well, for catapult ideas, they probably just watched videos of Monty Python's Holy Grail, and replaced the cow with hooch.)

I think the foot soldiers in the contraband crowd should at least get an off-site day to air their thoughts and grievances to each other and the boss.

Images: Catapult from ChrisO via Wikimedia. Monty Python scene via softchalkcloud.com.

— By on December 13, 2012, 8:47 PM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure