Mexican law enforcement seizes a hacked together Weed Cannon


Here’s an interesting hack. It’s a small pick-up truck with a Dope Cannon attached to it. Sure, it looks more like something you’d see in Syria, but this item was actually seized in Mexico where it was being used to fire 30 pound slugs of Marijuana over the border fence with the US. Usually when you fire artillery there isn’t someone on the target range trying to recover the projectile!

The device uses a PVC barrel to guide the pot-pellet as it’s propelled by compressed air. Hey, swap out the drugs for an energy drink and that sounds pretty familiar. Our qualifying entry for the 2012 Red Bull Creation Contest was an energy drink cannon which  used the same setup with a slightly smaller caliber. It makes us wonder if the drug cartel uses little parachutes like we did?

Doesn’t it arouse suspicion to drive something like this around town? You’d think they’d use a box truck or something similar to hide the giant gun.

[Photo Credit: AP via NY Daily News]

[via Reddit]


  1. pcf11 says:

    That isn’t an air cannon, these are air cannons!

    Pumpkin Chunkin baby yeah! I live 2 blocks from the original site.

  2. Frank says:

    Quite a hack actually, from the one article I skimmed about it apparently it used the car engine to provide the pressure for firing the projectiles.

  3. vindolin says:

    I wonder how many UAVs carrying drugs, cross over borders all the time.

  4. Silo says:

    In Italy a joint is called a Cannone.
    That make this one a Cannoni Cannon.

  5. Hirudinea says:

    This has to be the least violent gun the Mexican drug cartels have.

  6. Fritz says:

    Carrier pigeons one joint at a time…might work if you had a large enough flock

  7. Jorge Carbajal says:

    Should i feel bad that the patrol truck in the photo is from my local state police?

  8. Hack Man says:

    PVC barrel seems of dubious safety standards but the pressure tank is steel.

  9. mechpin says:

    UAV idead… you’d have to use an IMU and dead reckoning navigation. Unless you could somehow keep the GPS antenna out of the water.

  10. mechpin says:

    Oops I was thinking AUV

  11. :) says:

    I want to see giant 3 story trebuchets. It would make almost no noise , it would shoot nearly a mile, it would also not draw any power. Yeah it is a 3 story treb but you could hide it in a barn and have a hole to remove for the projectile to shoot out. The best part would be the inevitable flow of youtube videos of mexican cartel guys running in a hampster wheel to power it. (Cue

    • matt says:

      They have been known to use catapults

    • randomjnerd says:

      You would be better off with some sort of spring or torsion catapult if you want range. Treb’s aren’t the most efficient, they are just a lot easier to build, and especially easier to tune. (stuff moves slowly enough that you can watch it). At the chunk, the best trebs are throwing just over 2000 feet, compared with the torsion division record of 3636. (and the machines are a lot more compact than the record hurling trebs – you can move the record holder with a 1 ton pickup. Yankee Siege takes a semi, its successor takes two (mostly because of weight))

  12. Niru says:

    the real detail of this story that’s left out: authorities have found many cases where similar devices were used. This is the first time they’ve recovered one intact. (previous devices were combustion-powered, propane, etc. – this one ingeniously used compressed-air from the truck engine – which is awesome). So this isn’t a one-off. These things are COMMON.

    @HackMan: re: safety of stainless-steel vs. PVC -> obviously, you don’t have an understanding of mexican fix-it culture. :P At least they used Schedule-40 instead of Schedule-120. . .

    UAV’s: way way way too much up-front investment cost. Think how much these guys would have to make up in sales if one UAV were captured or just went-down, and they weren’t able to recover it. True that it’s a high-margin business. But they gotta pay for they ho’s now too. . .

    Where I live, police are regularly recovering abandoned panga boats from these guys. I really don’t think that it’s practical to try to stop this shit, and, personally, I don’t want to pay for that shit.

    • M4CGYV3R says:

      UAVs doesn’t necessarily mean a heavy-lifting quadrotor. You can get $50 R/C airplanes with enough lift to haul 1-2lbs. With an approx price(at least for what I smoke) of $4000/lb, that’s a pretty low-risk investment.

      • RoadWarrior222 says:

        You know what would be an even better investment? A working flying model of those satellite recovery rigs they were playing with in the 60s…. when the pot starts flying, from cannon or trebuchet, swoop low and score some for free and fly off with it.. :-D

        Hmmm I wonder if you can train condors for that or something….

        • Blue Footed Booby says:

          While amusing, remember that the Mexican drug cartels (who do indeed traffic a tremendous amount of weed, not just cocain and stuff like that) do things like barbecue people alive, and leave stacks of severed heads on sidewalks. These are bad, bad folks.

          Buy local, people. Keep your neighborhood hippies employed, and give your money to people who aren’t terrifying, murderous thugs.

    • cde says:

      IDK, using hot exhaust from the engine? Or are they getting compressed air from somewhere else? Most car air intakes rely on vacuum pressure and gets mixed with the gas almost immediately.

      • Code_Red says:

        belt driven compressor maybe?

      • matt says:

        It isnt uncommon for work trucks to have DC powered air compressors, or inverters for AC compressors, to drive air tools, my cousin has one in his Ford Ranger.

      • n0lkk says:

        “used compressed air from the engine of an old car.” could mean several things, doesn’t have to mean that the engine of this truck is compressing the air , although that is very doable. An engine could be modified to make an air compressor that is driven by anther power source. Again it very doable to modify an engine to be a self power air compressor. Take an inline 6 cylinder engine disable the intake valves on 5-3-2, put check valves at the spark plugs at those cylinders, the exhaust ports become the intake port. All that takes is custom intake &exhaust manifolds. With using a 300 CID 6 that going to be a lot of CFM. And BTW it’s atmospheric pressure that pushes air through the intake manifold :)

        • ChickeNES says:

          Given the huge number of VW Bugs around Mexico, I’d bet anything it was an old VW air cooled engine modified to be an air compressor. This place sells a kit:, and I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to rig something up.

        • randomjnerd says:

          A fairly common compressor for running jackammers used a smallblock ford engine – one side with the stock head, the other bank had a custom made head, basically a flat plate with standard compressor reed valves.

    • SCH120 is the safer kind. Higher number=higher pressure rating.

  13. ColdTurkey says:

    Nothin’ quite like a puff-powered puff launcher

  14. M4CGYV3R says:

    What’s the point? Canadian weed is better and the border is about 1/10th as regulated.

  15. Jorghe says:

    Wow! it’s shocking to see this in here since I haven’t seen it in the local news…
    Greetings from Ensenada, Baja California (like 170 km from Mexicali, Baja California)!

  16. anon says:

    What I want to know is when did HAD editors become a bunch of baked out toking weed druggies?

    • baked out toking weed druggie says:

      Dunno, but i for one appreciate content like this.

    • matt says:

      What under 40 year old these days doesnt/hasnt smoked pot?

      • soundman98 says:

        me. never smoked cigarettes either. i don’t have a desire to do either of those things, regardless of how legal they are..

        • yeah says:

          I’m pretty sure that question was rhetorical, but thanks for that useful contribution

        • M4CGYV3R says:

          If you never tried it, or even a cigarette, you don’t have a leg to stand on in these types of debates. That’s almost as bad as old white guys that rarely get laid making anti-abortion legislation.

          If the US government was actually concerned about public health, as they claim, they would:
          1. Shut down Pfizer/LaRoche-Posay/all pharmaceutical companies. Most drugs produced are either BS and don’t do what they say, or they have incredibly harmful side effects and heavy abuse potential.
          2. Make commercial-grade cigarettes illegal. You want tobacco, roll your own or pipe it. Enough with the RJ Reynolds formaldehyde-soaked cancer sticks.
          3. Remove laws against marijuana – it is physically impossible to overdose, and the plant is incredibly useful both medically and industrially. The amount of money it would bring in far outweighs the amount spent policing it currently.
          4. One-strike lose-your-license-forever penalty for DUI. I saw someone got arrested the other day for their 7TH DUI. What the fuck, cops?
          5. Stop shipping young men and women across the globe to steal or cheapen oil imports. Army should be for defense and protecting civil rights, not increasing profits.
          6. Research and actively implement alternative energy and fuels while severely taxing and removing subsidization from the oil industry and the burning of fossil fuels.
          7. Allow stem cell and other useful-but-controversial research to cure some of these awful diseases that are floating around. Why let religious prudishness kill people?

          Anyway, that was my hippy rant. Enjoy.

      • 47andneversmokedpotnot says:

        I don’t know any over 40 year olds who haven’t smoked pot at some point…

    • erich says:

      They don’t, well, dude, um, what was the question, oh yeah, remember…

  17. RoadWarrior222 says:

    Not believing the 30lb slug thing, don’t look like it could hold enough pressure to throw a load like that very far.

    • wretch says:

      Anybody know how close to the fence they use these cannons? It may not need to lob the load all that far; just quite literally over a fence.

      Mexico – United States barrier

      From some of the pictures on that page it looks like in some locations one can just drive right up to it and start lobbing whatever one wishes.

    • randomjnerd says:

      I think that’s why they caught this one – it had to fire close to the fence, a regularly patrolled area. Chances are there are larger, more competently designed machines out there, firing from well away from the fence, so they haven’t been found yet.

  18. LordNothing says:

    that seems like a lot of trouble to go through for inferior weed.

  19. AussieTech says:

    Quite a while back there was a report on the manned *submarines* one of the cartels had built and was using. Now there’s a hack.

    • biozz says:

      yeah submarines have been a drug tool for like 20 years … i believe they have captured 30+ of them

    • randomjnerd says:

      Since they don’t have access to the best power sources, the home brew subs have to operate at the surface most of the time. Nor do they have a way to find particularly quiet propellers, so they are very easy to locate.. Since they use manned subs, the things are much bigger than needed, and stuck in the near surface zone. Basically a WWII era sub would be a big advance for them.

      look up the Slocum Glider for a much harder to detect underwater option.

  20. anonymous says:

    Check out the pictures of “Bomberos”, built by the Denver Mad Scientists Club, at

    Both the barrel and compressor were built on a trailer, so the entire unit could be towed. The group’s earlier canon, Johnny Pumpkinseed, had to be disassembled and required 3 vehicles to transport.

    Bomberos was originally built as a proof-of-concept for mountain firefighters to launch buckets of slurry, but “The fire suppressant idea died with its inventor, and for lack of funding to have the 3-gallon containers required built, but the cannon soldiered on, launching pumpkins and inspiring 2 or 3 other air cannon builders in the Denver area.”

  21. n0lkk says:

    The first thing that came to mind was those on the other side running around try to catch the payload keeping on eye out for LEO, the other eyes on the stock pile so no one steals any of it. Second thought was US weed for those US citizens who want to consume it, is way overdue. I think a lot can be done to class this build up a turret with power azimuth & elevation adjustment a tower that raises up with power for a spotter feeding data into a fire control computer. A topper cap that slides out of the way to hide it all when traveling from battle to battle.

  22. biozz says:

    what? how do you get your weed? :3

  23. ejonesss says:

    considering the ady gil’s floor is made of hemp and was not taken

    2 minutes and 40 seconds into video

    the ady gil is now destroyed in season 3 of whale wars.

  24. randomjnerd says:

    While compressed air cannons are quieter than combustion driven ones, they are far from quiet. The large cannons at the chunk can be heard more than a mile away. There is a loud “thwop” as the projectile leaves the barrel, then several seconds of whistling as the excess air drains from the tank. There is also a large condensate cloud due to the pressure drop cooling.

    What they have been capturing have been machines with very short range, so they would have to be operated very close to the fence – in the cleared (and in places, illuminated) strip, where they would be easy to spot.

    A well designed catapult would have a range of around 1km, and would be fairly quiet in operation. They wouldn’t be the most portable, but they could take a tip from the astronomy crowd, and put a sliding roof on a building…

    Antonymous vehicles aren’t restricted to air. Look up the “Slocum Glider”, which is an underwater vehicle intended for oceanographic research. They work by altering the buoyancy of the device, so it would move vertically thru the water. Equipped with “wings”, the result would be forward motion. They are damn near impossible to detect (which is why they are such a good platform for research) About the only time you might be able to notice them is when they surface to get a gps fix.

    They aren’t the fastest things out there, but you could load them up, and just toss them in the ocean. when they get to their destination, they can sit on the bottom, waiting until late at night (possibly waiting for a signal), before surfacing for pickup. Remove the cargo, replace it with cash (as you need a clandestine way to move that), and toss them back into the water. Every 3rd or 4th trip, swap in a fresh battery pack. (in research use, they are intended to be out for months at a time, and they have to supply battery power to an instrument package)

    • Blue Footed Booby says:

      You use canons like these the same way you use shoulder-launched anti tank missiles: shoot ‘n’ scoot. By the time someone comes to investigate the thwomp,you’re someplace else.

  25. Weedman says:

    I’m waiting for the weed katyusha. Would be a great method. KNO3/candy and old cardboard tubes are cheap and the resulting rocket motors have a considerable range. No evidence is left behind and alot of weed can be fired in short time if you put katyusha style rocket launcher rails on the back of your truck. Put a small narrowband RF transmitter into each rocket and then go searching with <our receiver and a yagi antenna.

  26. Whatnot says:

    The IRA used home-made mortars, but as you say they cleverly hid them so you would not know the van had one.

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