Guns, drugs, and women forced into sex work dominate the global trafficking market, but there’s another commodity showing up in the U.S. — young athletes trafficked to play high-school basketball.
In a year-long FUSION investigation captured in a new hour-long documentary “The Naked Truth: Trick Shots,” award-winning correspondent and investigative journalist Mariana van Zeller explores the disparate network of coaches and con men who exploit kids from all over the world for profit.
FUSION finds young people being ripped off and even extorted by prep schools─some have been left homeless, even jailed or deported. FUSION’s quest to find the origin of these trafficking networks takes viewers to Serbia to track down unscrupulous recruiters and to West Virginia, Georgia and Florida to meet the victims and confront the ringleaders. The docu-series also shadows law enforcement officials attempting to combat this rarely discussed form of trafficking and explains why it’s so hard to punish the perpetrators.
“The Naked Truth: Trick Shots” premieres Tuesday, November 28 @ 8PM on FUSION. Find out where to watch here.
“Trick Shots” is an installment of FUSION’s award-winning signature documentary series “The Naked Truth.” “The Naked Truth” launched in January 2016 and in its first year was recognized with a number of prestigious journalism awards including: Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award (“Death by Fentanyl”), RFK Journalism Award (“Rigged”), George Polk Award (Panama Papers), National Press Club Award (“Death by Fentanyl”), and Scripps Howard Award (“ISIS Fighters”), among others. The team was also recognized for its contributions to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Panama Papers investigation and was nominated for a 2017 News and Documentary Emmy Award for its report “The Naked Truth: Trumpland.” Adweek has called “The Naked Truth” an “Investigative Journalism Franchise for the Daily Show Generation.”
Mariana van Zeller is an award-winning correspondent and investigative journalist. Her 2016 FUSION investigation “Death by Fentanyl,” which tracked the pharmaceutical and clandestine sources of the deadly opioid was recently honored with a DuPont Award. Her other reporting has included “Rape on the Reservation,” which examined the increased incidence of rape and sexual violence on American Indian reservations, she received the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists. Her documentary on prescription drug abuse and pill trafficking, “The OxyContin Express,” was honored with a Peabody Award, a Television Academy Honor and an Emmy nomination.
In 2011, Mariana began her coverage of the drug war in Mexico and for years, attempted to interview drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, only to be scooped by Sean Penn. As a consolation, Penn reported that he and Guzman discussed Mariana’s 2015 FUSION documentary, “Chasing El Chapo.” Mariana hosted Travel Channel’s Breaking Borders, where she journeyed to conflict zones around the world with acclaimed chef Michael Voltaggio. She currently contributes to National Geographic’s “Explorer”, FUSION, ESPN, and has an upcoming series on Netflix. Mariana began her journalism career in her native Portugal. She’s fluent in Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian and French.
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