Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller | Shining light on the darkest corners of the criminal underworld

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Mariana van Zeller in an episode of Trafficked. (Photo: National Geographic/Muck Media)
Mariana van Zeller in an episode of Trafficked. (Photo: National Geographic/Muck Media)

I bought my first packet of cigarettes a short few months into my first ever job as a journalist. I'd successfully traversed adolescence without giving in to temptation, but one afternoon as a fresh-faced crime reporter I was returning home from a gruesome scene and knew what I had to do. I asked the teller for a packet of Peter Stuyvesant and a red lighter. I chose Peter Stuyvesant because a guy I knew smoked them and he always looked so damn cool, laidback and in control. I desperately needed some of that.

The cigarettes, at the time, was a helpful coping mechanism for debriefing afterwards and surprisingly, even more useful in building relationships with police officers, paramedics, and firefighters. When you’ve just shared a traumatic experience and huddle together afterwards to have a smoke, you create a bond that I can't really explain to anyone else.

Thanks to Allen Carr, I easily quit smoking and instead of covering crimes scenes, I now cover crime shows.

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