Fusion Series Shines Light on Black Market

Nelufar Hedayat, host of new investigative series The Traffickers on Fusion, spent her early years in Afghanistan before her family departed Taliban rule to settle in England. She adds a few more stamps to her passport with The Traffickers, which visits 22 nations to track the roots of illicit trade, be it guns or sex or even pet pangolins.

Fusion debuted the first two hour-long installments, focused on child trafficking and the rhino horn trade, Nov. 13. Nov. 20 sees Hedayat look into the buying and selling of human organs. “We wanted to uncover and unpack how black markets operate,” she told B&C. “We’re not really interested in why or how people use these things. It’s the mechanics, the nuts and bolts of how trafficking works.”

Hedayat was a junior reporter at Channel 4 in the U.K. prior to coming on board at The Traffickers, which is produced by the media company Lightbox and its principals Simon Chinn (Man on Wire) and Jonathan Chinn (30 Days). She says her relative youth (she’s 28), smallish size and gender helped her gather info from otherwise reticent sources in some of the more shadowy corners of the globe Hedayat visited. “I’m not [BBC News correspondent] John Simpson, Anderson Cooper, insert white, tall patriarchal male name here,” says Hedayat. “I think it disarmed a lot of people. It’s a tool in my arsenal.”

While the series reaches all corners of the planet, Hedayat says several “sinews” connect the stories, and illicit trade, to the U.S. One segment traces gun smuggling from the States to El Salvador, a factor in the latter country’s high murder rate. Hedayat notes an “incredibly lax” system in place here in terms of tracking and tracing weapons.

“I have no problem with the Second Amendment,” she says. “But you do not however have the right to export death to other nations. That’s what’s being allowed to happen because of the systems [the U.S.] has in place. You’re entirely culpable and responsible for every single young man who dies in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, because you’re not doing your due diligence.”

Hedayat is obviously not afraid to shake things up. It’s an interesting series to watch.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.