Unveiling the Shadows: Mariana van Zeller’s Investigative Odyssey Through Trafficked Underworlds

Estimated read time 3 min read
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  • Sextortion: Unraveling the Web of Blackmail and Devastation
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Renowned investigative journalist and correspondent Mariana van Zeller is set to delve deeper into the criminal underworlds in the highly anticipated fourth installment of National Geographic’s Emmy-nominated docu-series, Trafficked Underworlds, premiering on Thursdays at 21:00 starting from May 23, 2024, on National Geographic (DStv 181, Starsat 220).

With a stellar track record, including Peabody and DuPont Awards, Mariana van Zeller takes on the daunting task of unraveling the geopolitical complexities that fuel the multitrillion-dollar black market economy. Through her series Trafficked, she ventures into the intricate and perilous inner workings of global black-market networks. Mariana’s approach offers viewers an intimate glimpse into the exhaustive process of investigative journalism, providing a comprehensive perspective on the trafficking world, encompassing the viewpoints of smugglers, law enforcement, and victims alike.

Benefiting from National Geographic’s signature access, each episode sees Mariana immersing herself into a different underworld to acquaint herself with the key players, understand the operations, and illuminate the shadows of the world’s colossal shadow economy. In Trafficked Underworlds, she delves into realms including assassins, sextortion, illicit trade in body parts, black market pharmaceuticals, ape trafficking, migrant smuggling, hash trade, illegal gambling, drug mule schemes, and the complex nexus between gold mining and terrorism funding.

Highlighted episodes this season include:

  • Assassins: Mariana ventures into the enigmatic world of contract killers, from Los Angeles to South Africa, shedding light on the motivations driving individuals to choose a path of violence.
  • Sextortion: Investigating the insidious phenomenon of “sextortion” in the Philippines, Mariana uncovers a sprawling culture of blackmail with devastating consequences.
  • Body Parts: Mariana exposes the clandestine trade in human remains, revealing the vulnerabilities of individuals even after death.
  • Black Market Meds: Exploring the underground trade in pharmaceuticals, Mariana traverses Mexico and India to unveil the risks faced by desperate patients and the criminals exploiting their plight.
  • Apes: Journeying to the Congo, Mariana investigates the illicit trade threatening the survival of wild apes, shedding light on the entire supply chain and the efforts of activists fighting for conservation.
  • Migrant Smugglers: Amidst the debate over immigration, Mariana delves into the billion-dollar industry of smuggling people to the U.S., tracing the routes and actors involved in this perilous trade.
  • Hash Smugglers: From Morocco to Europe, Mariana follows the trail of hash smugglers, revealing the dark underbelly of a seemingly benign trade.
  • Illegal Gambling: Mariana explores the lucrative yet perilous world of illegal gambling, examining its allure and consequences.
  • The Drug Mule Scam: Investigating cases of elderly Americans ensnared in drug trafficking schemes, Mariana uncovers a sophisticated scam with devastating consequences.
  • Caught In An African Coup: Mariana’s investigation into gold mining and terrorism funding in Niger takes a dramatic turn during a military coup, revealing the geopolitical stakes at play.

Trafficked With Mariana van Zeller has garnered critical acclaim, receiving multiple News and Documentary Emmy nominations, Critics Choice Real TV Award nominations, and a Gracie Award. Produced by Muck Media, the series is led by Executive Producers Mariana van Zeller, Darren Foster, and Jeff Plunkett, along with Executive Producers Bengt Anderson and Sean D. Johnson from National Geographic.

How to tune in:

DSTV: Channel 181

StarSat: 220 on DTH, 220 on DTT (249 on DTT in Uganda)

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