Trafficked With Mariana Van Zeller Season 2: Release Date, Cast And New Details

Not everyone would have the courage and stomach to venture into the shady world of black markets, but Mariana Van Zeller has made it her mission. As the host of National Geographic's Emmy Award-nominated "Trafficked with Mariana Van Zeller," the journalist investigates the truth behind the darker side of life. She travels the world from the Amazonian jungles to major American cities and beyond to get the true stories behind the "shadow economy" — the term for underground trades such as drug smuggling, sex work, and importation of illegal goods (via International Monetary Fund).

In the show's debut season, Van Zeller investigated the people and trade routes behind the fentanyl, cocaine, and steroid industries as well as learned how guns are making their way from the U.S. to Mexican drug cartels and delved into the black market for tigers and their skins, teeth, and other body parts. Watching the show, you'll find it's a lot more sinister and ugly than the private zoo world of "Tiger King."

The documentary series is about to enter its second season, and filming is already underway on a third, reports Variety. This new season promises to be even more eye-opening and exciting than the first. Read on to find out what we know.

Trafficked with Mariana Van Zeller will be an unexpected holiday gift for viewers

Season 2 of "Trafficked" will premiere at 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday, December 1, almost exactly a year to the date after the first season debuted. The show will air on the National Geographic Channel and stream on Hulu as well.

The network just released a trailer for the second season, which promises to be as thrilling as the first. Mariana Van Zeller is shown talking to a source, who is disguised in a balaclava and dark glasses, with his voice digitally altered (as is typical of her interviews). She asks if the person behind him is a security guard with a gun, and the source says curtly, "That's not a gun," refusing to elaborate any further. We see men with assault rifles, a biker throwing an axe at a target, and a police officer smashing in a glass door. More disguised sources are seen telling Van Zeller, "They look at you as prey" and "people want to kill you for asking questions." An officer tells her, "Everybody involved is making money."

"Filming a whole season of 'Trafficked' during a global pandemic was extremely challenging, but there's been an explosion of black markets over the past year, and I think we all quickly realized that this series has become more relevant than ever," Van Zeller said in a press release (via Variety). "With this second season, we've managed to dive even deeper and gain even more access into underworld networks around the world."

Mariana Van Zeller is the driving force behind the show

Mariana Van Zeller returns as the intrepid award-winning investigator who literally risks her life to do her job. Born in Portugal, the veteran reporter lives in LA and became an American citizen in 2015. The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism alum worked for the now-defunct Current TV, National Geographic, and the Travel Channel before circling back to National Geographic in 2017. 

One of Van Zeller's previous shows was the Travel Channel's "Breaking Borders." There, she invited people from both sides of ongoing conflicts in countries like Rwanda and Cambodia to share a meal together. In an interview with Adweek, she said, "I wouldn't say that our goal is to solve conflicts, but we have captured some pretty amazing moments at our meals that we hope will impact and inspire not only those at the table, but those at home watching our show."

It seems implausible that one woman could manage to get some of the world's most dangerous people to trust her, much less open up about their lives and motivations. Yet Van Zeller does it through her calm, compassionate approach. In an interview with Ozy (seen here on Twitter), she said, "I approach all my subjects with an enormous amount of empathy, and judgment always last. I am there to try to really place myself in their shoes." Still, she admitted it was "really hard" to maintain that compassion when she interviewed pimps for her report on the sex worker trade.

Here's what we can expect from Season 2: Bikers, plastic surgery, and more

Vital Thrills offers an advance look at the worlds Mariana Van Zeller will be exploring in the second season of "Trafficked." Among them are stolen cars, the meth trade, back-alley plastic surgery, outlaw motorcycle gangs, the new women cocaine bosses in Colombia, and even marijuana. Despite the increasing legalization of pot in America, the black market for it is still thriving.

What Van Zeller uncovers is eye-opening. You may want to rethink your dinner choices once you learn that a full 30 percent of the seafood sold for consumption has been caught illegally by pirates who defy conservation laws to deplete the oceans. The journalist also gets an inside look at a gang of "romance scammers" from Ghana who make millions by wooing wealthy people on social media, then persuading their victims to send them money. So, think twice before clicking the "accept" button from that unknown guy who wants to follow you on Instagram.

One episode that promises to be especially chilling will air on January 5, 2022. Van Zeller meets with white supremacists whose secret network has a racially motivated violent agenda. The documentary's trailer shows her asking a young man, "Are you a Nazi?" The man — whose t-shirt does appear to have a swastika on it — just grins and snickers. 

"Trafficked with Mariana Van Zeller" follows in the footsteps of other National Geographic docuseries like "Drug Lords: The Next Generation," shedding light on the portions of humanity who spend most of their days in the shadows.