Nelufar Hedayat is the host of The Traffickers, a new series on Fusion that uncovers the hidden truths of the global black market — the ties between the illegal and legal trading of guns, animals, humans and more. She’s been up close and personal with some of the world’s most notorious sex traffickers, poachers, and smugglers, and as a journalist with a passion for fighting hidden trafficking, she’s not afraid to ask the hard questions.
The 28-year-old British journalist became a refugee at 6 years old, fleeing war-torn Afghanistan and the Taliban with her mother and going back and forth between Afghanistan and Pakistan via the Jalalabad before finally settling in Britain. Since becoming a journalist and television host, Hedayat has reported on tons of hard-hitting stories, from Malala Yousafzai to the Taliban.
Today, Hedayat is launching a series that uncovers the underground world of illicit trafficking. The black market is a multi-billion dollar industry, and everything from weaponry, precious metals, babies, endangered species, and human organs reap high rewards for those willing to procure such products. Featuring a camera crew of only one, plus herself, Hedayat underwent a 14-month-long investigation in 22 countries, including Colombia, India, Greece, and Nigeria.
While the source material is rather provocative and has earned the show much controversy, Hedayat insists that her main mission is to learn more about the secretive industry and how it intertwines with everyday life and society. Hedayat believes that black market activities and regular life may be more interwoven than we are aware.
“The Traffickers is looking at the world in between worlds,” stated Hedayat in an interview with Teen Vogue. “We walk around the cities, towns, [and] villages that we live in, and we think we know everything [and] we see everything happening in daylight. But, what’s often the case is that there is an entire underworld living right on top of us that we don’t see; and they also operate in daylight. So, my fascination and my real drive to do The Traffickers was trying to understand how these two worlds are connected. How are we part of this dark underworld, if at all? […] And what learned was [if you] look around… right now [at] the buildings, the streets, the cars, [and] the people; some of them are involved in these illicit markets.”
In the documentary series, Hedayat gets up close and personal with individuals directly involved in the black market, conducting, for example, an interview with a gun trafficker responsible for smuggling hundreds of guns from the United States to Guatemala. One recent episode, titled “The 3000 Meal,” followed Hedayat and her crew to uncover the story behind the world’s most trafficked mammal, the pangolin. According to Hedayat, because the mammal is so obscure, there was very little information to work with, making the investigative element of the episode “twice as hard.”
The series consists of a total of eight hour-long episodes which shed light on human traffickers, poachers and smugglers. The information Hedayat gathers not only gains better public understanding and awareness of such a heinous web of illegal business, but also reveals the complex circumstances that surround this lucrative and global phenomenon of a market.
“I want to deconstruct the kind of news media version of events where it’s very straightforward. Where there’s only one direction, there’s only one truth,” Hedayat told USA Today College.
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