Mariana van Zeller Talks Underworld Journalism in NatGeo’s Trafficked [Exclusive Interview]

Mariana van Zeller
Mariana van Zeller (L) observes Sinaloa Cartel gunsmiths as they work on their arsenal. (Credit: National Geographic/Muck Media)

Mariana van Zeller is one of the bravest journalists and documentarians working today.

After covering wars, militant groups, cartels, and drug lords, van Zeller returns to the National Geographic Channel with a new series that looks at the biggest and dangerous smuggling operations and criminal operations in the world.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Armed with National Geographic’s trademark inside access, Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller takes viewers on a journey inside the most dangerous black markets on the planet. Each investigation in the eight-part series embeds with Peabody and duPont Award-winning journalist Mariana van Zeller as she explores the complex and often violent inner workings of a smuggling network. While she dives deeper and deeper into these underworlds, Mariana reveals—with characteristic boldness and empathy—that the people operating these trafficking rings are often a lot more like us than we realize.

In the first season of Trafficked, some of the topics covered included gun smuggling, scams, fentanyl, tigers, steroids, money runners, pimps, and cocaine. Her captivating documentary episodes take a behind the scenes look into the operations with interviews from the major players, law enforcement, fellow journalists, and locals caught in the midst of operations.

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LRM Online’s Gig Patta chatted with journalist Mariana van Zeller as she is already underway filming another investigative episode in Mexico cartel country. We talked about her episodes, the dangers of journalism, the research process, and her attraction to risking her life for a story.

Mariana van Zeller is an award-winning journalist and documentarian. Formerly, she was the chief correspondent for Fusion and former correspondent for the Vanguard documentary series on the former Current TV. Some of her documentaries included City of God, Guns & Gangs, Gateway to Heroin, This (Illegal) American Life, Narco Bling, Rape on the Reservation, and Sri Lanka: Notes From a War on Terror.

Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller premieres tomorrow night at 9/8c on National Geographic Channel with a two-episode premiere. In the special two-hour episode, she uncovers a lethal supply chain of American firearms smuggled to drug cartels in Mexico that contributed to the increased gun violence and murders. The jaw-dropping episode looks at the gunrunners, mules, cartel bosses, and even the assassins obtaining these guns. Not to mention, the ease guns obtained in the United States to sell illegally across the border.

Watch the exclusive interview with Mariana van Zeller below. Let us know what you think.

Source: LRM Online Exclusive, National Geographic

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