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‘Trafficked: Underworlds’ Renewed For Season 5 at National Geographic

National Geographic announced today the greenlight of the fifth season of the Emmy®-nominated series TRAFFICKED: UNDERWORLDS WITH MARIANA VAN ZELLER. Production is currently underway, with Peabody and duPont Award-winning journalist Mariana van Zeller continuing her harrowing exploration into the inner workings of the most dangerous black markets on the planet. All four previous seasons are available to stream on Hulu and on Disney+ in Some countries including Canada.

The newest season of TRAFFICKED continues to spotlight van Zeller’s high-stakes, critical investigations into the black markets that dominate half the world’s economy. Viewers join the intrepid host and executive producer as she travels to some of the world’s most unstable regions and confronts key players in these underground economies. In one ripped from the headlines story, Mariana is investigating how gold mining funds terrorism when she and her team get trapped in Niger after a military coup. In another, she travels to war-torn Ukraine to investigate how the Russian invasion has upended the global surrogacy business and driven many couples to the black market. Time and again, Mariana puts her own life at risk to access and better understand the people who work in these criminal underworlds. Moments from the series have also gone viral on National Geographic’s YouTube page: How Coca Leaves Become Cocaine has 7.2 million views, How Do Cartels Get Their Weapons has 2.7 million views, and the full episodes of Smuggling Stolen Cars, Black Market Marijuana, Black Market Organs, Scams, Fentanyl and Counterfeiting each have around two million views.

Armed with National Geographic’s trademark inside access, each episode follows van Zeller as she investigates a different underworld to talk to the players, learn the business, and better understand the world’s multitrillion-dollar shadow economy. Van Zeller travels across the globe and meets with everyone from traffickers, smugglers, assassins and terrorists to law enforcement, government officials, experts, victims and more to provide a 360-degree look into these global underworlds.

TRAFFICKED has been an incredible journey, and it’s one that I am honored to continue with my team and our partners at National Geographic,” said van Zeller. “For me, the series is more than just a fascinating look into these rarely-seen black markets. It’s the chance to actually connect on a human level with those who make their living there.”

The 10-part fourth season, which aired earlier this year, gave viewers an intimate peek behind the curtain of these poorly understood trafficking networks. Topics included the dark world of contract killers, a new “sextortion” blackmail scam, the smuggling of people into the United States, the illegal trade in wild apes, the sales of stolen body parts, the black market medication industry, the smuggling of hash, illegal gambling and more.

TRAFFICKED: UNDERWORLDS WITH MARIANA VAN ZELLER has been nominated for fourteen News and Documentary Emmys, including Outstanding Crime and Justice Coverage for “White Supremacy”; Outstanding Science, Technology or Environmental Coverage for “Amazon Mafia”; Outstanding Investigative News Coverage: Long Form for “Fish Pirates”; and Outstanding Writing: News, Outstanding Research: News, and Outstanding Editing: News. The series received a Critics Choice Real TV Award nomination for Best Crime/Justice Show for two consecutive years in 2021 and 2022 and a Critics Choice Documentary Award nomination for Best Ongoing Documentary Series in 2023. The series was a 2021 Gracie Award winner for Best Reporter/Correspondent – Mariana van Zeller and van Zeller has recently been nominated for a 2024 Gracie Award.

TRAFFICKED: UNDERWORLDS WITH MARIANA VAN ZELLER is produced for National Geographic by Muck Media. For Muck Media, executive producers are Mariana van Zeller, Darren Foster and Jeff Plunkett. For National Geographic, Sean Johnson and Chad Cohen are executive producers, Bengt Anderson is senior vice president of Unscripted Content, and Tom McDonald is executive vice president of Global Factual and Unscripted Content.

Michelle Beck
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