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Documentaries & Non-Fiction Series

Mariana van Zeller previews a new season of NatGeo’s Trafficked 

Mariana van Zeller previews a new season of NatGeo’s Trafficked

As a (generally) law-abiding citizen, there are people I’d never come into contact with and places I’d never be invited to go. While some of these places and people can be considered glamorous, so much of the “underworlds” they dabble in or control are dangerous, probably illegal and potentially life threatening. Award-winning journalist Mariana van Zeller has been investigating these underworlds for much of her career.

Mariana van Zeller waits as the team tries to clear a vehicle from the deep mud in the Congolese forest. (National Geographic for Disney)

In season 4 of Trafficked, we travel with Mariana to a country where contract killings are almost a daily occurrence. We visit regions of the world where the making and selling of drugs — both prescription and illegal — are controlled by cartels. And by the way, those prescription drugs are counterfeit. We discover all the moving parts of the illegal smuggling of migrants across Mexico and so much more.

Why does a poacher in the Democratic Republic of the Congo agree to hunt a great ape? What does it entail? How much are they paid? Who ultimately profits the most? In the US and Mexico, why do people want to own body parts of the dead? Are they collectors or religious practitioners who need something specific to perform a ritual? Why is illegal gambling on the rise and what are these high-stakes players gambling for? Who gets invited to these games and who is making money from hosting them?

Mariana van Zeller interviews Ray Ray at his gambling location. (National Geographic for Disney)

Not only does Mariana have an impressive level of access, she gets people to talk — on camera and on the record. You may think you know the whole story about why people are involved in these illicit or illegal activities, but you only know a small part. What are their motivations? How did they become involved? What are they risking? What are they getting paid? Are people’s lives at stake? Mariana’s reporting for Trafficked exposes the inner workings of the most dangerous black markets on the planet and why they exist in the first place.

TV Goodness had the chance to speak exclusively to Mariana about this season Trafficked. She previews the season, talks about getting access to her subjects and discusses what she hopes people will take away from the series:

Season 4 of Trafficked premiered Wednesday, January 17th on NatGeo and can be streamed on Disney+ and Hulu.

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