Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller

A weekly Society, Culture and TV podcast featuring
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Mariana talks with David Packouz, one of the two notorious young men who inspired the movie War Dogs. He made headlines when he sold illegal ammo to the US government in what was called “The Afghan Contract.” We hear how he became a major player in the weapons trade by age 25, how a major ammunition delivery went wrong, and how his booming career got shot down.
Cocaine production is at an all-time high, but it came to fame in the Miami Vice era of the 1980’s with the help of the “Cocaine Cowboys.” In this episode, Mariana sits down with JC Perez, who piloted cocaine smuggling runs for one of the biggest bosses in the business. Over the course of his career, JC trafficked thousands of pounds of drugs, until an unexpected bust crashed his party.
Heidi Fleiss is perhaps best known as the “Hollywood Madam.” Despite having started her business at just 22, she developed a star-studded list of clients, all meticulously organized in her red Gucci planner. Among them was Charlie Sheen, who famously testified at Heidi’s trial that he’d spent $53,000 a year on her services. On a bad night, Heidi says she raked in $10,000. What made Heidi Fleiss so successful, how did her ring unravel, and where did she fly off to? For more information about Heidi Fleiss’ Nevada bird sanctuary, please visit her YouTube Channel.
Mariana dives into an underground world of subterfuge, heists, counterfeiting, smuggling, and organized looting with Michel van Rijn, one of the world’s most prolific artifact smugglers. In a career full of legendary antics, he once sold a truckload of ancient Russian icons and used the proceeds to buy a private jet. But along the way, Michel made dangerous enemies in the billion-dollar illicit art market. With his back against the wall, he flipped sides, using his expertise to set up sting operations with the same international authorities who hunted him for decades. The BBC now calls him "The Indiana Jones of Chelsea"... although his former handler said he wasn’t above keeping the best mosaic for himself.
Mariana breaks down how a major player made it big—and lost it all—in the dangerously unregulated, billion-dollar black market of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). Tony Bosch’s Biogenesis of America was behind the largest PED scandal in American sports history, leading to the suspension of 14 professional baseball players, including Yankees' superstar Alex Rodriguez. How did he go from self-proclaimed “biochemist” of an anti-aging clinic to pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute testosterone? The Trafficked TV series is available now on National Geographic, and new episodes air Wednesdays.
Oxycontin has sparked the deadliest drug crisis in American history. Struggle Jennings, an outlaw country rapper — and the grandson of country music legend Waylon Jennings — once got busted for trying to purchase a big load of oxycontin in a WalMart parking lot in Memphis, Tennessee. Mariana and Jennings discuss the day he got busted, his life leading up to it, and the toll it took.  The Trafficked TV series is available now on National Geographic, and new episodes air Wednesdays.
The official companion podcast to National Geographic Channel’s new series premiering Dec 2, Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller brings us one step closer to understanding the lives of traffickers. Join investigative journalist Mariana van Zeller after each episode as she sits down with former black market operators to hear the story of their rise and fall, boom and bust. These intimate, honest and empathetic conversations pull back the curtain on the global underworld and the people who make their livelihoods within it. How did they get pulled to the dark side? How did they get caught? And what was it like to live the outlaw lifestyle? The Trafficked podcast is available wherever you listen to podcasts on Thursdays beginning December 3.
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Podcast Details

Created by
National Geographic
Podcast Status
Potentially Inactive
Nov 19th, 2020
Latest Episode
Jan 7th, 2021
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
37 minutes
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