Mexican drug bazooka
Mexican National Police stand with a bazooka inside a van which they believe was used to launch drugs across the US border into Arizona. Handout Mexican National Security Commission

A powerful bazooka believed to have been used to shoot drugs over the US border has been seized by federal authorities in Mexico.

The homemade bazooka or air cannon was mounted in a van that was also confiscated in the town of Agua Prieta in northeastern Sonora, which shares a border with Arizona. The van had been stripped of its licence plates and the doors were ajar when it was found.

Inside, federal police officers found an air compressor, a gasoline motor, an air storage tank and a "metallic tube of approximately 3 meters length (a homemade bazooka)," said a Mexican police statement, translated from Spanish.

The van had an opening in the rear hood through which the monster bazooka could fire, police said.

A bazooka is just one of a "variety of methods used to send contraband" into the US, said a statement by the US Customs and Border Protection.

Mexican drug dealers have been know to lob "softball-sized packages of marijuana" over the International Boundary Fence into a US residential area, such as a backyard, where they are then "retrieved by a co-conspirator," the statement added.

Smugglers have also been known to use a trebuchet or catapult to launch contraband into the states.

In 2011 drug suspects were captured on National Guard surveillance video using a catapult to fling marijuana over the border near Naco, Arizona. ABC News reported at the time. The suspects fled the scene, but authorities seized about 45 pounds of marijuana.

US federal officials became aware of the use of bazookas to blast contraband over the border in 2013 when Mexican police discovered one in a pickup truck near the border.

"It seems like within the last five to 10 years they have gotten really, really creative in how they bring their drugs across," a spokesman for the US Customs and Border Protection told CNN then.

It's not clear what type of drugs the bazooka may have been blasting into the US, but Mexican newspaper Reforma said several packages of marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine were found over the summer along the US border, perhaps the result of bazooka launches.

Mexican drug traffickers may be largely abandoning marijuana sales to the US, however, because it's getting hard to compete with the quality of pot being produced in legal states like Colorado, notes High Times.