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Teens apprehended with marijuana launched into U.S. by air cannon

Two teenagers were arrested by Border Patrol agents in Naco after they were found with a bundle of marijuana believed to have been launched over the fence by an air cannon, authorities said. 

On Wednesday, two agents were sent to investigate when surveillance cameras spotted the drugs being launched from Mexico into the United States using an air cannon, said Rob Daniels, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  

The agents found the teens with 34 pounds of marijuana, molded into a cylindrical shape approximately the diameter of a 55-gallon drum, said Daniels. 

The teenagers were identified only as U.S. citizens. 

The two teenagers will be prosecuted by the Cochise County Attorney under a program known as Operation Immediate Consequences, which charges juveniles offenders with drug crimes. If convicted, the teens face up to 18 months of incarceration, said Daniels. 

Michael Hyatt, patrol agent in charge of the Brian A. Terry station based in Naco said that smuggling organizations often use teenagers as mules, "lying to them about their chances of being prosecuted for their roles in smuggling attempts."  

"In many cases, they do not realize the true consequences of their actions," Hyatt said. 

In September, Mexican Federal Police in Agua Prieta, Sonora — about 30 miles east of Naco — seized an air cannon jury-rigged inside a stolen van they believed was used to launch drugs over the U.S. 

The van had part of the roof removed and a square barrel protruded about three meters—nearly ten feet—from the top of the vehicle. 

Inside, federal police found an air compressor and air tank, and a gasoline engine that could have allowed the cannon to launch packages from Mexico into the United States, officials said. 

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

The border fence in Nogales. Smugglers have turned to other methods, including the use of drones, and air cannons, to get drugs into the United States.