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Mobile drug-launching air cannon found by Mexican federal police

Mexican federal police in Agua Prieta, Sonora, discovered a van outfitted with an air cannon they believed was designed to launch drugs over the U.S.-Mexico border. 

In a news release, Mexican authorities said that on Friday officers found the van on a street in Agua Prieta, just across from Douglas, Ariz., and noted that it was missing a license plate and the doors were open. 

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. 

The van had been reported stolen in Hermosillo, Sonora, in July, officials said. 

Drug smugglers have used a variety of methods to launch drugs into the United States. 

In 2011, National Guard troops spotted smugglers setting up a catapult just south of the fence near Naco, Ariz.

That same year, Mexican authorities in Mexicali, just across the border from Calexico, Calif., seized an air cannon installed in the bed of a red pickup truck. 

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In January, Border Patrol agents watched as a "OctoCopter-style" drone dropped bundles of drugs after flying over the U.S.-Mexico border from San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora. The agents intercepted the drugs, but could not seize the drone. 

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Mexican Federal Police

A police officer stands in front of a van mounted with an air cannon believed to be used to launch drugs over the U.S.-Mexico border near Douglas, Ariz.