Image courtesy of National Geographic.

4 Reasons You'll Be Obsessed With National Geographic’s Latest Series ‘Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller’

Illegal activities are happening all over the world behind closed doors, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The likelihood that you live in the same neighborhood as a counterfeiter, scammer, pimp, or drug dealer is much higher than you might think. I, for one, have always been fascinated with the criminal underworld and its effects on our everyday lives. National Geographic’s Trafficked With Mariana van Zeller explores these ideas and will pique your cultural curiosity and broaden the way you think.

Trafficked gives unprecedented, never-before-seen access into the world of smugglers and traffickers. Whether it’s drugs, animals, or counterfeit money, there’s an episode that unravels the secrets and shows us the human side of these operations. Here are four more reasons to watch the new National Geographic series.

1. Mariana van Zeller is Awesome

Mariana van Zeller. Image courtesy of National Geographic.

The award-winning journalist, executive producer and correspondent has spent over a decade risking her life in pursuit of stories around black market operators. The series shows that van Zeller has a keen understanding of her subjects and shows us their human sides. In the hands of someone less passionate, determined, and empathetic, we wouldn’t learn nearly as much.

2. National Geographic’s Trademark Inside Access

Image courtesy of National Geographic.

National Geographic has always been a fount of information about the world around us and Trafficked is certainly no exception. From fentanyl suppliers to tiger-traffickers, van Zeller and National Geographic get right into the fray to show us all the angles, often risking their own safety in the process.

3. Popular TV Themes Get A Journalistic Light

Image courtesy of National Geographic.

Am I the only person who is thoroughly fascinated by “The War on Drugs” and the residual chaos that it leaves in its wake? Most of the time these stories are fictionalized in marathon-ready cable TV adaptations, but in Trafficked, we get to see the "bad guys” up close and personal (although often their faces and voices are obscured for obvious reasons). Through seeing the realities that these people face on a daily basis, we sometimes gain empathy and compassion for the so-called “villains” of the world. Additionally, there is an episode specifically dedicated to steroids, which are in increasingly high demand in a world dominated by social media and building personal “brands.”

4. Knowledge Is Power

Image courtesy of National Geographic.

The informative takeaways you get from watching an episode of Trafficked are abundant. While we still want to have empathy for some of the people who are involved in illegal activities, that doesn’t mean we want to fall prey to them or empower them either. One of the most relevant episodes is about scamming, which can be as innocuous as an annoying robocall, or as devastating as losing your life savings. van Zeller travels the world, meeting some of the most successful scammers out there. In effect, she learns why Americans, in particular, are so susceptible to scamming. Another episode that is sadly extremely relevant to our society right now is “Fentanyl.” A terrifying amount of recreational drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, and even marijuana can be laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl is a dangerous, powerful opiate that is often prescribed to terminally ill patients. In Trafficked, Mariana van Zeller meets the suppliers, as well as the communities that are ravaged by the drug. The information seen in this particular episode could help save lives.

Watch the trailer below and be sure to tune into Trafficked Dec. 2 at 9 p.m. ET on National Geographic.

This article is sponsored by National Geographic.