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Surveillance video Thursday appears to show a catapult used by drug smugglers to transport narcotics over the border between Mexico and Arizona near Naco. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection/NBC )

Drug smugglers trying to get marijuana across the Arizona-Mexico border apparently are trying a new approach — a catapult.

National Guard troops operating a remote video surveillance system at the Naco Border Patrol Station say they observed several people preparing a catapult and launching packages over the International Border fence last Friday evening.

Tucson TV station KVOA said Border Patrol agents working with the National Guard contacted Mexican authorities, who went to the location and disrupted the catapult operation.

The three-metre-tall catapult was found about 20 metres from the U.S. border on a flatbed towed by a sports utility vehicle, according to a Mexican army officer with the 45th military zone in the border state of Sonora.

The catapult was capable of launching two kilograms of marijuana at a time, the officer said Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

Soldiers seized 16 kilograms of marijuana, the vehicle and the catapult device, the officer said.   

The smugglers left the area before they could be captured.