Badass Former Refugee Traces The Global Black Market In Exciting New Series

by John Haltiwanger

Nelufar Hedayat is not your average TV host.

The 28-year-old, award-winning journalist is an Afghan refugee who grew up in the UK and now spends her time tracing the black market across the globe.

Hedayat is the host of the brand new investigative series "The Traffickers," which premiered November 13 on Fusion.

In the series, Hedayat takes you on a global journey as she delves into the dark and intricate world of trafficking.

She explores the implications of the trafficking of drugs, guns, body parts and even humans.

A few weeks ago, Hedayat stopped by Elite Daily's office to discuss the exciting new series (see the video above), which took 14 months to film and saw her travel to 22 countries.

For Hedayat, the show is largely about highlighting the dark sides of globalization and the "gray areas" in our increasingly interconnected world.

As she put it,

Trafficking seemed to encapsulate that in such a brilliant way. To traffic something it needs to pass through certain legitimate structures or infrastructures. You can't moving anything without customs stamping something. The point was how can we make [the world of trafficking] into a consumable little episode and still focus on when the legal, the illegal — the dark, the white, the legitimate and illigitmate worlds — collide and crash.

Hedayat wanted to the infiltrate the complicated networks and criminal underworlds that operate the international black market right under our noses — and she succeeded.

Part of what Nel hoped to expose with the series was how people involved in the black market aren't necessarily the sinister individuals we might believe them to be.

In her view, it's important to highlight the nuances — or shades of gray — in a world where people approach many issues with black-and-white perspectives.

While it's easy for many of us in the developed world to look down on someone who might traffic illicit substances, we need to recognize the desperate circumstances that led them to get involved, as well as our own complicity.

In Hedayat's words,

When we're talking about good and bad or evil and us — the rest of us — we're way more connected than you think we are. Those markets, those drug dealers, those poachers, those hunters are only able to get away because they know at the end of the day there's always going to be a guy that pays. When we were making the "Guns" film. We tracked the gun trade from El Salvador through Central America and into America. What I mean by that is guns from America are killing young men in El Salvador.

Hedayat then went on to casually discuss a conversation she had with a gun trafficker in a brothel, which just goes to show the dangers she faced in filming this series.

We did land in a few quite hairy situations.

This is not to say Hedayat needlessly put herself or her crew at risk.

They did their best to be practical as they shot the series, but she admitted this is not a topic to report on if you don't have what she referred to as the "risk appetite."


But, as exciting and intriguing as exploring the global black market was for Hedayat, it was also very challenging emotionally at times.

She said it was hard for her to remove the "good things" she saw from "the horrors" she witnessed.

In Thessaloniki, Greece, for example, it was very emotionally taxing for Hedayat — who is a former refugee herself — to see refugees be "siphoned off into the sex trade."

She asked,

Could you think of a more vulnerable person?

Meanwhile, as she was speaking with people and girls impacted by this abhorrent practice, she said encountered some of the kindest individuals she's ever met in the refugee camp. One little boy even carried an umbrella to make sure she didn't get wet in the rain.

So, even as she was exploring a topic that can be depressing, there were still very powerful and encouraging human moments. As Hedayat put it,

There was good and bad. It's not all dark and bleak.

This is definitely a series you don't want to miss. It's an adventurous, emotional, insightful and thorough look at the global black market.

Join Hedayat for the next episode of "The Traffickers," in which she explores the trafficking of guns, at 10 pm on November 27.