Border Management Is Not Always a Grim Task: Catapults and Ice

By David North, February 15, 2017

Managing the border is not always a matter of grim law enforcement, as two unrelated Customs and Border Protection (CPB) press releases indicated this week.

From the southern border we find that some would-drug smugglers used a medieval device, the catapult (pictured below), to toss marijuana into the United States, just as some of their colleagues have used the ancient practice of tunneling under the border to achieve the same purpose.

Meanwhile, at the northern border, it's the time of year that CBP informs us to make use of the ice bridge between Canada and the United States. This is not a way to get from the mainland of Canada to the U.S. mainland — it is from Canada's Lake Huron shore to Drummond Island, a lightly populated U.S. island 11 times the size of Manhattan. CBP establishes a port of entry on Drummond for use on weekends only by visiting Canadians and Drummond Islanders returning in their cars or ski mobiles from Canada.

The catapult story has an implication that the government never shares with us — it is the most inept among the criminals who are the most likely to get caught, or, in this case, thwarted. Some Border Patrol agents, in broad daylight, interrupted the activity and recovered some or perhaps all of the marijuana bundles. Those who devised this operation also decided to build their catapult right on the fence itself, where it was easily visible from both countries. So they were working at the wrong time of day and placed their device in the worst possible location.

What the cartels should do is to attend the annual Punkin Chunkin Festival in Bridgeville, Del., this November 3-5. The champion of the catapult section of the contests in 2015 threw the pumpkin more than 2,900 feet, according to the website. Another category of potential interest to the drug people would be adult air cannons, one of which recorded a flight of 4,500 feet. Certainly marijuana could be placed in packages that are sleeker than pumpkins and thus capable of even longer flights.

Were these championship technologies to be used by the bad guys, perhaps the Border Patrol could dust off its drones to observe — and maybe even catch — the marijuana missiles. That would be the makings for a really great press release!


The author, a recovering former governmental press officer, routinely reads the CBP news releases.