The child-sized blue jeans lay twisted and forlorn in the scrubland along one of the most popular routes for undocumented migrants crossing from Mexico into Texas.

Chris Cabrera surveyed the scene from his white pickup truck. A border patrol agent for 13 years, he knows how to spot the clues, some obvious – like the jeans – others more subtle, like the flattened grass nearby that formed a northwards path through dense bushes.

Its width suggested two or three people walking side by side, which Cabrera said was an indicator of drug smuggling activity: migrant groups tend to move in single file.

“In a week or so that’ll be a really good trail,” he said.

Only a couple of hundred yards away, cars rushed along the Anzalduas international bridge, gateway to one of several legitimate ports of entry in the area.

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