SAN FRANCISCO—Sensor towers controlled by AI, drones launched from truck-bed catapults, vehicle-tracking devices disguised as traffic cones—all are part of an arsenal of technologies that comprise the expanding U.S surveillance strategy along the U.S.-Mexico border, revealed in a new EFF zine for advocates, journalists, academics, researchers, humanitarian aid workers, and borderland residents.

Formally released today and available for download online in English and Spanish, “Surveillance Technology at the U.S.-Mexico Border” is a 36-page comprehensive guide to identifying the growing system of surveillance towers, aerial systems, and roadside camera networks deployed by U.S.-law enforcement agencies along the Southern border, allowing for the real-time tracking of people and vehicles.

The devices and towers—some hidden, camouflaged, or moveable—can be found in heavily populated urban areas, small towns, fields, farmland, highways, dirt roads, and deserts in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

The zine grew out of work by EFF’s border surveillance team, which involved meetings with immigrant rights groups and journalists, research into government procurement documents, and trips to the border. The team located, studied, and documented spy tech deployed and monitored by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), National Guard, and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), often working in collaboration with local law enforcement agencies.

“Our team learned that while many people had an abstract understanding of the so-called ‘virtual wall,’ the actual physical infrastructure was largely unknown to them,” said EFF Director of Investigations Dave Maass. “In some cases, people had seen surveillance towers, but mistook them for cell phone towers, or they’d seen an aerostat flying in the sky and not known it was part of the U.S. border strategy.

“That's why we put together this zine; it serves as a field guide to spotting and identifying the large range of technologies that are becoming so ubiquitous that they are almost invisible,” said Maass.

The zine also includes a copy off EFF’s pocket guide to crossing the U.S. border and protecting information on smart phones, computers, and other digital devices.

The zine is available for republication and remixing under EFF’s Creative Commons Attribution License and features photography by Colter Thomas and Dugan Meyer, whose exhibit “Infrastructures of Control,”—which incorporates some of EFF’s border research—opened in April at the University of Arizona. EFF has previously released a gallery of images of border surveillance that are available for publications to reuse, as well as a living map of known surveillance towers that make up the so-called “virtual wall.”

To download the zine:

For more on border surveillance:

For EFF’s searchable Atlas of Surveillance: