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United States Idle

Drug Catapult Found At US-Mexico Border 225

Posted by samzenpus
from the things-have-been-rough-for-Wile-E dept.
suraj.sun writes "According to a Fox News report: 'Drug smugglers trying to get marijuana across the Arizona-Mexico border apparently are trying a new approach — a medieval catapult, capable of launching 4.4 pounds of marijuana at a time. National Guard troops operating a remote video surveillance system at the Naco Border Patrol Station say they observed several people preparing a catapult and launching packages over the International Border fence last Friday evening. The 3-yard tall catapult was found about 20 yards from the US border on a flatbed towed by a sports utility vehicle, according to a Mexican army officer with the 45th military zone in the border state of Sonora.'"

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Drug Catapult Found At US-Mexico Border

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  • Angry Drugs (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 27, 2011 @03:36PM (#35023772)

    This is an iPhone game waiting to happen.

    • Re:Angry Drugs (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Skuld-Chan (302449) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @03:41PM (#35023828)

      That's more of an android game ;).

      • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @03:49PM (#35023954) Homepage Journal

        I say "trebuchet"

        Let's call the whole siege off...

        • Definitely not a trebuchet, this uses an elastic spring as the power source. A trebuchet uses a counterweight.

          • by meerling (1487879)
            I can't get the stupid video to run, but if they are using an elastic spring, to spin a launching arm, then yes, definitely catapult.
            For those that don't know the difference, it's simple:
            A Catapult uses torsion to impart momentum to a swinging launch arm which flings the projectile.
            A Trebuchet uses a counterweight to do the same thing.

            And just because there are stupid reporters that can really get things wrong, a ballista or arbalest is a direct fire siege engine sized freaking crossbow! (Ok, there's actual
        • by g0bshiTe (596213) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @05:27PM (#35025400)
          Honestly I prefer my illegal narcotics to enter the country via trebuchet as well.
    • by camperslo (704715)

      One of these days someone, in the quest to trim federal spending, fight drugs, and patrol borders, is going to go a few steps beyond remotely controlled web cams.

      Imagine if you will a parallel universe, where handling crime is a game. There the government sells "hunting" licenses to website operators that provide cameras and weapons remotely operated over the web by paying players. The war on whatever turns profitable?
      Not sure what happens to any captured drugs, maybe the government could auction those of

      • Imagine if you will a parallel universe, where handling crime is a game.

        Oh you mean like the USA currently in the War on Drugs?

  • people being launched using this.. Just wait.

    • Re:Next you will see (Score:4, Informative)

      by sglewis100 (916818) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @04:06PM (#35024196)

      people being launched using this.. Just wait.

      MythBusters already covered that [kwc.org].

    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      It has already happened - people were paying money for a "ride". Someone miscalculated a customer's weight and he landed a few dozen feet short of the safety net that was there to catch him. The owners of the catapult went to jail for manslaughter.
    • There was a Mythbusters episode dedicated to a border catapult for people. I think it was busted, but don't quote me on that.
  • by Sonny Yatsen (603655) * on Thursday January 27, 2011 @03:38PM (#35023798) Journal

    If the video for the story is correct, then that's not a catapult, it's a trebuchet! (Albeit it replaced the counterweight with some sort of elastic cabling.)

    • by lgw (121541)

      While definitions have varied over time, in modern usage the distinction is: a catapult uses tension, while a trebuchet uses a counterweight. Catapults have used quite a few forms of elastic tension to store energy over the centuries: twisting rope was just the most common.

      • You're almost right. The most common spring wasn't twisted rope, it was twisted rawhide. Rope loses its elasticity almost immediately, rawhide doesn't.

        (Scientific American, ca.1971 iirc)

        The trebuchet we used in SCA combat (I was baron of Stormhold at the time) was a traction trebuchet; instead of a counterweight, it had four large ropes that people hauled down on, on command. Ours had a 6 metre (18') throwing arm. It was fairly well researched, and could throw a couple of kilograms worth of softball

    • Re:Trebuchet (Score:5, Informative)

      by msauve (701917) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @03:51PM (#35023990)
      Your attempt at being pedantic fails. A trebuchet is just a specific type of catapult. The device is in fact a catapult.
      • What's important is the counter measure. Here is something for the US border patrol to bear in mind:

        When faced with enemy trebuchets, cavalry work best due to their high speed and good damage. A small group of Knights make short work of a group of trebuchets. Cavalry archers also work well, especially the Mongol Mangudai due to its bonus damage vs. siege units. Infantry and foot archers are also acceptable but are less desirable due to their lack of speed; this weakness allows the user to spot them early and respond to the situation by unpacking the trebuchets and/or retaliating with an army of his/her own.

        • by corbettw (214229)

          Obviously, the high speed of cavalry, with a base move of at least 7", does help to close the difference. But the main reason knights are more useful against trebuchets is because they have 25mmx50mm bases, so fewer of them are touched by the small blast template. Infantry have either 20mm or 25mm square bases, resulting in considerably more (19 or 13, respectively) being hit.

          Flying cavalry or other units of flyers are ideal, though. With their high speed (marching 20") they can get across the field in only

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Your attempt at being pedantic fails. A trebuchet is just a specific type of catapult. The device is in fact a catapult.

        You are being insufficiently discriminating, sorry. They weren't classed as such, and medieval distinctions between catapults and trebuchets were quite distinct. You had catapults (also called "Onagers", or "rocking donkeys"), ballistae (God's very own crossbow, generally with two distinct arms, from which we derive the term "ballistics") and the various forms of trebuchets, the largest of which could throw a boulder the size of a small cottage. You would no more call them all "catapults" then you would

        • by msauve (701917)
          Catapults preceded medieval times, and we're in modern times, so your appeal to middle English as a language authority fails.

          The term 'catapult' is often used as a generic label for all throwing machines. In modern times it describes any system that launches an object from a platform. Military historians and reference works are not in agreement when the term 'catapult' is used to label a specifically configured medieval non-gunpowder weapon.

          -Medieval Mechanical Artillery [xenophongroup.com]

          See also
          "The art of the catapult

    • If the video for the story is correct, then that's not a catapult, it's a trebuchet! (Albeit it replaced the counterweight with some sort of elastic cabling.)

      Get your eyesight checked. Maybe you'll get some of the MJ prescribed...

      Anyway, a trebuchet would have a counterweight, not a bungee-rope to pull the arm.

    • by jnaujok (804613)
      A tension trebuchet is commonly called a Scorpion. (Sometimes spelled skorpion.)
    • by Swampash (1131503)

      Doesn't the elastic tension make it an onager?

      Can't believe I'm having this discussion on Slashdot in a thread about drug importation.

  • I'd just keep a bunch of officers near where you expect all these packages to land.
    • Most likely, the catapult operators would notice a bunch of police downrange. Five hundred yards with a 40 - 50 foot trebuchet and 4 - 5 pound pumpkin earns you bragging rights.
      • Ah... but we will be cleverly disguised as Badgers!

        • by plopez (54068)

          Badgers? We don't need no stinkin' badgers.....

          Extra nerd points if you can ID where that quote first came from. No fair using google.

  • by Umuri (897961) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @03:44PM (#35023868)

    I mean surely i'm not the only engineer who's joked that all they really need to do is catapult and parachute to get over the border, with no need for a parachute if they're launching hard projectiles. I mean the range on old catapults and trebuchets was quite well, and could be scaled as a simple matter of physics.

    So I suppose next we might find a tunnel that is one mile down and 40 miles under the border to breach the "castle walls" of the united states?

    • by i.r.id10t (595143)

      Tunnels have already been found... not a mile deep, but crossing the boarder, yes.

      • by sjames (1099)

        Perhaps we just found the decoy tunnels meant to get the border patrol wasting it's time with mutual back patting.

    • by Timmmm (636430)

      Or an RC plane...

      • by jasno (124830)

        Or a weather balloon with a GPS transponder...

        or an air canon shooting small packages onto the roof of a friendly warehouse on the US side...

        or autonomous boats/submarines...

        I saw an MTV documentary one time where they showed how kayaks and sailboats would carry packages of drugs underwater attached to a weighted rope. If the authorities approach, just cut the line and let it sink.

        I think if I were a drug kingpin I'd be paying lots of money to some poor graduate students to investigate modifying some nativ

        • They'd be avoiding the profit that the grad students would then keep...
          • by gknoy (899301)

            Being drug kingpins, they'd likely just kill the researches when they were done, or send them to New Reno.

          • by Derkec (463377)

            Grad students are trained to work extremely hard for little or no pay and even less credit. Perfect hire for this kind of work.

        • by cusco (717999)
          The Newfoundland booze smugglers would toss their cargo overboard in wooden crates weighted with rock salt when they got raided. As the salt dissolved the crates would float to the surface where fishermen would just "happen" to be casting nets nearby. They got quite good at judging how long it took for x-many kilos of salt to dissolve.
      • by hedwards (940851)
        Some of the Columbian narco gangs actually have used RC cars, and by that I mean the sort that is a real car with a RC steering mechanism. Granted their rare and mostly for bombings, but it does happen. Or at least it has happened.
    • There was actually a MythBusters episode on it, if anybody remembers.
    • by turing_m (1030530)
      Perhaps the next technology they will adopt will be underground pneumatic tubes like they have at banks, hospitals etc. e.g. a massive underground length of PVC pipe, using compressed air to shoot drug packages to the other side.
    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @04:54PM (#35024958) Homepage

      As Penn and Teller pointed out on their show Bullshit!, the border "wall" that conservatives keep on talking about building would be completely ineffective. A reasonably enterprising illegal immigrant could breach or bypass said wall in approximately 2 minutes (either climbing over, digging under, or busting a hole in the middle), and given that they've likely traveled for days just to get to the border, the extra 2 minutes aren't going to stop them. Heck, even the Berlin Wall didn't stop people trying to escape from East Berlin to West Berlin - people got past it with balloons, tunneling, and crashing border stations among other methods.

      On the upside, I view those as proof that human ingenuity can beat oppression.

      • by EdIII (1114411)

        Heck, even the Berlin Wall didn't stop people trying to escape from East Berlin to West Berlin - people got past it with balloons, tunneling, and crashing border stations among other methods.

        It was not the Berlin Wall that stopped them. It merely slowed them down so the bullets could stop them. The point of the Berlin Wall was not to be an infallible method of keeping people in, but just a to make it incredibly dangerous, time consuming, and generally resource intensive effort to bypass it.

        My idea to protect the border is quite, quite, simple:

        Snipers - Everybody dies from the smallest, to the largest, from the young to the old. If we can find you in our sights... you die.

        That would absolutely

  • by Fauxbo (1393095) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @03:45PM (#35023890)

    The national started looking for the device when they found a giant baseball glove mounted in the Arizona desert

  • ....and I've been down to visit a couple of times.

    When we go hiking in the Coronado National Forest, it's staggering the number of Border Patrol officers/vehicles/activity we see along 92 between Bisbee and Sierra Vista.

    I don't know how you could get away with anything on that stretch of the border, but given the close proximity of Naco, MX and Naco, AZ, maybe just getting over the fence is all that matters, since the fence is pretty much the width of the border there.

  • by redemtionboy (890616) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @03:48PM (#35023934)
    Normally I'm pro-legalization, but I'm much more pro-catapult. So if anti-drug legislation can bring us the catapults of our dreams, then may it is the answer. Then again, we could legalize and then just require all distribution to be done via catapult. It's a win/win.
    • by TheCarp (96830)

      I think I agree here.... even more so with revelations that it was a trebuchet.

      Hmmm you know, it is a siege weapon. Actually, I think they should be charged with waging war on the United States. Why? Because that way they could go down in History as the most recent use of a trebuchet in a battle.

      And that... that would almost be worth the time.

      I, for one, welcome the invasion of our trebuchet weilding enemies, and tell them to bring it on! We should meet them on the field of battle... and... twist up a doobe

    • by jovius (974690)
      Just wait when their technology advances to modern artillery!
  • Am I the only one who pictured this being expanded upon in a Simpsons episode to include an immigrant launcher as well?
  • No broken giant wooden rabbits were found on the US side of the border.
  • I always wondered why the cartels haven't invested in UAVs. It must be pretty simple now days to build a GPS guided device with enough payload to make the more expensive drugs worthwhile to ship
    • by plopez (54068)

      That's and idea. How about model rockets stuffed with heroin or cocaine? Elastic launched gliders? Kites? Potato cannons?That may work.

      Tunnels and subs are old news.
      Those plucky Mexicans are so innovative.

      Here's a nice potato cannon link:
      http://www.spudtech.com/ [spudtech.com]

    • I always wondered why the cartels haven't invested in UAVs. It must be pretty simple now days to build a GPS guided device with enough payload to make the more expensive drugs worthwhile to ship

      Might work for cocaine / heroin but marijuana is pretty bulky. You'd want a UAV the size of a DC-3. And it really isn't 'easy' to build large UAVs - even ones with just, say, 10 kg payloads. Easy is a semisubmersible [wikipedia.org]. Interestingly, even though they have capacities of several tons, they appear to be used more for high value cocaine that plain old pot.

    • by cusco (717999)
      Cargo containers and semi trailers are much more efficient, that's how most drugs have entered the US ever since the Reagan bAdministration packed Customs with their cronies. There are several reasons why to this day only five percent of cargo containers entering the US are inspected, even though ports like Hong Kong and Dubai can inspect 100 percent, and the chance of accidentally uncovering someone's benefactor's shipment is one of them. Operations like this, the tunnels, the mules and the sailboats are
    • I always wondered why the cartels haven't invested in UAVs. It must be pretty simple now days to build a GPS guided device with enough payload to make the more expensive drugs worthwhile to ship

      Especially because many of these cartels have cash and valuables on hand to rival the GDP of smaller second and third world countries. Hire an engineer and use some off the shelf components. GPS is cheap now.

  • DEA infiltrates annual "Pun'kin Chunk'in" event claiming they traffic in drug paraphernalia Video crew jailed on suspicion of not respecting their authoritay

  • I see they haven't figured out our advanced potato cannon technology yet.
    • I see they haven't figured out our advanced potato cannon technology yet.

      Funny, I wondered why they hadn't tried that. Seems it would be more efficient and quicker. Some compressed air, poof, and voila air mail delivery of the drug du jour.

  • Pot via railgun, that's the next upgrade....

  • In the near future Adam and Jamie will test the validity of catapulting a kilo of actual coke across the border.

  • by PPH (736903) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @07:53PM (#35026952)
    ... to shoot up drugs.
  • Fetchez la vache!

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