Join Peabody and duPont Award-winning journalist Mariana van Zeller for a rare, in-depth conversation previewing the new season of National Geographic’s “Trafficked.” The 10-part series offers viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the underworld’s most dangerous black markets -- from California to West Africa. Join this discussion ahead of the anticipated season premiere.


“Whenever there’s an economic downturn, whenever people are losing their jobs, they turn to global black markets and there was an explosion in black markets during the pandemic.” (Washington Post Live)
“Gray and black markets actually take up for almost half the global economy. The drug trade alone brings in between $400 and $600 billion dollars a year. That’s more than all of the GDPs of all the countries except the top 20 richest.” (Washington Post Live)
“It’s not because there’s a bigger propensity of Black or brown [people] to enter worlds of crime, of course not. It is the lack of opportunities, it’s the inequality that exists.” (Washington Post Live)

Mariana van Zeller

Provided by National Geographic.

Mariana van Zeller is an award-winning correspondent and investigative journalist. She is the host and executive producer of National Geographic’s original documentary series “Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller,” which explores the complex and often dangerous inner-workings of the global underworld, smuggling networks, black and informal markets.

The series builds on Mariana’s work for National Geographic’s Explorer series and her decade-plus reporting on shadow economies around the world.

For her reporting, Mariana has earned some of the most prestigious awards in journalism and storytelling. Her 2016 investigation “Death by Fentanyl,” which tracked the pharmaceutical and clandestine sources of the deadly opioid was honored with a DuPont Award. For her report “Rape on the Reservation,” which examined the increased incidence of rape and sexual violence on American Indian reservations, she received the Livingston Award for Young Journalists. And her documentary on prescription drug abuse and pill trafficking, “The OxyContin Express,” received a Peabody Award, a Television Academy Honor and an Emmy nomination.

In 2011, Mariana began her coverage of the drug war in Mexico and for years, attempted to interview drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, only to be scooped by the actor Sean Penn. As a consolation, Penn reported that he and Guzman discussed Mariana’s 2015 documentary, “Chasing El Chapo,” in which Mairana traveled to El Chapo’s hometown in the mountains of Sinaloa. Mariana hosted Travel Channel’s Breaking Borders, where she journeyed to conflict zones around the world with acclaimed chef Michael Voltaggio.

Mariana began her journalism career in her native Portugal and moved to the US to attend Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she met her husband and producing partner Darren Foster. They live in Los Angeles with their son Vasco. Mariana is fluent in Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian and French