NEAR MARFA, Texas (Border Report) — While traveling from the Marfa area to Alpine, Texas on Friday evening, our team spotted a blimp used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to monitor illegal immigration.

According to a recently published article on CBP’s website, this is one of eight blimps used in the Tethered Aerostat Radar System, or TARS. These are tied to the ground and have the ability to float up and down.

“TARS is like a low-flying satellite system, but cheaper to launch and operate,” Richard Booth, director of domain operations and integration for CBP’s Office of Air and Marine explained in the article.

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According to CBP, no one mans the balloons. They serve as radars that allow agents to boost their surveillance range. Each TARS balloon contains a radar weighing about 2,200 pounds, capable of detecting aircraft at a range of 200 miles, according to CBP.

Border officials also say the balloons also serve as a visual deterrent to illegal activity both by air and ground.

You can click here for a breakdown of how these blimps have helped stop and crackdown on illegal immigration by air.

The other two blimps in Texas are located in the areas of Eagle Pass and Rio Grande City.

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