To Catch a Smuggler

Last updated
To Catch a Smuggler
Genre Documentary
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes48
Original network National Geographic
Original releaseOctober 8, 2012 (2012-10-08) 

To Catch a Smuggler is a documentary television series that depicts the work of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement law enforcement officers at multiple United States airports. Violations range from fraudulent visas to human trafficking. To Catch a Smuggler is featured on National Geographic Television. [1]


A typical episode presents several incidents of the following types:

Some episodes focus on similar activity at airports and transport facilities in other countries, such as:


Series overview

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
1 5October 8, 2012 (2012-10-08)November 5, 2012 (2012-11-05)
2 8January 1, 2020 (2020-01-01)February 19, 2020 (2020-02-19)
3 15January 20, 2021 (2021-01-20)May 19, 2021 (2021-05-19)
4 12February 9, 2022 (2022-02-09)April 27, 2022 (2022-04-27)
5 8September 14, 2022 (2022-09-14)November 1, 2022 (2022-11-01)

Season 1 (2012)

No. in
TitleOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
11"Courier to Kingpin"October 8, 2012 (2012-10-08)N/A
22"Cavity Courier"October 15, 2012 (2012-10-15)N/A
33"Hidden Heroin"October 22, 2012 (2012-10-22)N/A
44"Coke in the Coat"October 29, 2012 (2012-10-29)N/A
55"Search & Seize"November 5, 2012 (2012-11-05)N/A

Season 2 (2020)

No. in
TitleOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
61"Internal Investigation"January 1, 2020 (2020-01-01)N/A
72"Club Drugs and Party People"January 8, 2020 (2020-01-08)N/A
83"Suspicious Suitcase"January 15, 2020 (2020-01-15)N/A
94"Cocaine Crackdown"January 22, 2020 (2020-01-22)N/A
105"Smuggle Once, Smuggle Twice?"January 29, 2020 (2020-01-29)N/A
116"Drugs, Guns and Money"February 15, 2020 (2020-02-15)N/A
127"Cocaine Sausages"February 12, 2020 (2020-02-12)N/A
138"Decoys, Diversions and Drug Busts"February 19, 2020 (2020-02-19)N/A

Season 3 (2021)

No. in
TitleOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
141"Mama's Meth"January 20, 2021 (2021-01-20)N/A
152"The Coke Inside"January 27, 2021 (2021-01-27)N/A
163"Party Drugs"February 3, 2021 (2021-02-03)N/A
174"Endangered and Smuggled"February 10, 2021 (2021-02-10)N/A
185"Hidden Compartments"February 17, 2021 (2021-02-17)N/A
196"Stash House Takedown"February 24, 2021 (2021-02-24)N/A
207"Coke, Cakes and Cash"March 3, 2021 (2021-03-03)N/A
218"Dark Web and Liquid Drugs"March 10, 2021 (2021-03-10)N/A
229"Cocaine Shoes"April 7, 2021 (2021-04-07)N/A
2310"Lockdown Lockup"April 14, 2021 (2021-04-14)N/A
2411"Fentanyl Within"April 21, 2021 (2021-04-21)N/A
2512"Mobile Meth"April 28, 2021 (2021-04-28)N/A
2613"Express Delivery Ecstasy"May 5, 2021 (2021-05-05)N/A
2714"Mega Millions Meth Stash"May 12, 2021 (2021-05-12)N/A
2815"Meth Lab Takedown"May 19, 2021 (2021-05-19)N/A

Season 4 (2022)

No. in
TitleOriginal air date [2] U.S. viewers
291"Smuggled and Muzzled"February 9, 2022 (2022-02-09)N/A
302"Jungle Stash"February 23, 2022 (2022-02-23)N/A
313"Bunked in a Trunk"February 23, 2022 (2022-02-23)N/A
324"Smorgasbord of Smack"March 2, 2022 (2022-03-02)N/A
335"Killer Ketamine"March 9, 2022 (2022-03-09)N/A
346"Guns of New York"March 16, 2022 (2022-03-16)N/A
357"Gas Tank Meth"March 23, 2022 (2022-03-23)N/A
368"Powdered Rims"March 30, 2022 (2022-03-30)N/A
379"Million Dollar Ride"April 6, 2022 (2022-04-06)N/A
3810"Dope on a Rope"April 14, 2022 (2022-04-14)N/A
3911"Six Million Dollar Seizure"April 21, 2022 (2022-04-21)N/A
4012"Drug Boat Bust"April 27, 2022 (2022-04-27)N/A

Season 5 (2022)

No. in
TitleOriginal air date [2] U.S. viewers
411"Cocaine Snapper"September 14, 2022 (2022-09-14)N/A
422"Talibani Treasure Trove"September 21, 2022 (2022-09-21)N/A
433"Tunnel from Tijuana"September 28, 2022 (2022-09-28)N/A
444"Dark Net Dragnet"October 5, 2022 (2022-10-05)N/A
455"Blow Overboard"October 12, 2022 (2022-10-12)N/A
466"Coke on the Water"October 19, 2022 (2022-10-19)N/A
477"MDMA on the Move"October 26, 2022 (2022-10-26)N/A
488"Meth in the City"November 1, 2022 (2022-11-01)N/A

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Smuggling</span> Illegal movement of goods or people

Smuggling is the illegal transportation of objects, substances, information or people, such as out of a house or buildings, into a prison, or across an international border, in violation of applicable laws or other regulations. More broadly, social scientists define smuggling as the purposeful movement across a border in contravention to the relevant legal frameworks.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">People smuggling</span> Illegal transportation of people

People smuggling, under U.S. law, is "the facilitation, transportation, attempted transportation or illegal entry of a person or persons across an international border, in violation of one or more countries' laws, either clandestinely or through deception, such as the use of fraudulent documents".

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a federal law enforcement agency under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. ICE's stated mission is to protect the United States from the cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threaten national security and public safety.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Border control</span> Measures taken to regulate the movement of goods and people across borders

Border control refers to measures taken by governments to monitor and regulate the movement of people, animals, and goods across land, air, and maritime borders. While border control is typically associated with international borders, it also encompasses controls imposed on internal borders within a single state.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">U.S. Customs and Border Protection</span> Department of the United States Federal Government

United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the largest federal law enforcement agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security. It is the country's primary border control organization, charged with regulating and facilitating international trade, collecting import duties, as well as enforcing U.S. regulations, including trade, customs and immigration. CBP is one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the United States. It has a workforce of more than 45,600 federal agents and officers. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coast Guard Investigative Service</span>

The Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) is a division of the United States Coast Guard that investigates crimes where the U.S. Coast Guard has an interest. It is composed of civilian (GS-1811), active duty, reserve enlisted, and warrant officer special agents.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Border guard</span> Government service concerned with security of national borders

A border guard of a country is a national security agency that performs border security. Some of the national border guard agencies also perform coast guard and rescue service duties.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Isle of Man Treasury</span>

The Treasury of the Isle of Man is the finance department of the Isle of Man Government. It prepares the annual budget for the Government, and also handles taxation, customs and excise, economic affairs, information systems, internal audit, currency and the census in the Isle of Man.

Taiwan is primarily a destination for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. It is also a source of women trafficked to Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Women and girls from the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.) and Southeast Asian countries are trafficked to Taiwan through fraudulent marriages, deceptive employment offers, and illegal smuggling for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Many trafficking victims are workers from rural areas of Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, employed through recruitment agencies and brokers to perform low skilled work in Taiwan’s construction, fishing, and manufacturing industries, or to work as domestic servants. Such workers are often charged high job placement and service fees, up to $14,000, resulting in substantial debt that labor brokers or employers use as a tool for involuntary servitude. Many foreign workers remain vulnerable to trafficking because legal protections, oversight by authorities and enforcement efforts are inadequate.

Turkey is a top destination for victims of human trafficking, according to a report produced by the UNDOC. Source countries for identified victims of trafficking in 2008 included Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Romania, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Indonesia, and Morocco. Notably, Russian organized crime syndicates engage in trafficking of women for prostitution, and Russian and Ukrainian women have turned up in many European countries, including Turkey. U.S. State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons placed the country in "Tier 2" in 2017.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Royal Malaysian Customs Department</span> Malaysian Government department

The Royal Malaysian Customs Department is a government department body under the Malaysian Ministry of Finance. RMCD functions as the country's main indirect tax collector, facilitating trade and enforcing laws. The top management of JKDM is led by the Director General of Customs and assisted by 3 deputies, namely, the Deputy Director General of Customs Enforcement/Compliance Division, the Deputy Director General of Customs Customs/Inland Tax Division and the Deputy Chief Director of Customs Management Division. The Royal Malaysian Customs Department consists of several divisions, namely the Enforcement Division, the Inland Tax Division, the Compliance Division, the Customs Division, and the Technical Services Division.

The Government of the Republic of Korea does not meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continues to make improvements but South Korea has been lowered to Tier 2. The government demonstrated serious and sustained efforts by identifying and providing services to a comparable number of victims relative to the previous reporting period, increasing inspections of entertainment businesses, and increasing efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. Although the government meets the minimum standards, it did not adequately address labor trafficking; the government investigated and prosecuted fewer cases, and penalized and deported trafficking victims due to inadequate identification efforts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Human trafficking in the United States</span> Human trafficking as it relates to the United States

In the United States, human trafficking tends to occur around international travel hubs with large immigrant populations, notably in California, Texas, and Georgia. Those trafficked include young children, teenagers, men, and women; victims can be domestic citizens or foreign nationals.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wildlife smuggling</span> Illegal gathering, transport and distribution of wild animals

Wildlife smuggling or trafficking involves the illegal gathering, transportation, and distribution of animals and their derivatives. This can be done either internationally or domestically. "Wildlife smuggling is estimated at $7.8bn to $10bn a year, according to the U.S. State Department. The U.S. State Department also lists wildlife trafficking as the third most valuable illicit commerce in the world." The illegal nature of such activities makes determining the amount of money involved incredibly difficult. When considered with illegal timber and fisheries, wildlife trafficking is a major illegal trade along with narcotics, human trafficking, and counterfeit products.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Human trafficking in Papua New Guinea</span>

Papua New Guinea is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced prostitution and forced labor. Women and children are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation and involuntary domestic servitude; trafficked men are forced to provide labor in logging and mining camps. Children, especially young girls from tribal areas, are most vulnerable to being pushed into commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor by members of their immediate family or tribe. Families traditionally sell girls into forced marriages to settle their debts, leaving them vulnerable to involuntary domestic servitude, and tribal leaders trade the exploitative labor and service of girls and women for guns and political advantage. Young girls sold into marriage are often forced into domestic servitude for the husband’s extended family. In more urban areas, some children from poorer families are prostituted by their parents or sold to brothels. Migrant women and teenage girls from Malaysia, Thailand, China, and the Philippines are subjected to forced prostitution, and men from China are transported to the country for forced labor.

Visa fraud has different criteria in various parts of the world but the commonly accepted points are the sale, provision, or transfer of otherwise legitimate visas, misrepresentation of reasons for traveling and forgery or alteration of a visa.

Human trafficking in Brazil is an ongoing problem. Brazil is a source country for men, women, girls, and boys subjected to human trafficking, specifically forced prostitution within the country and abroad, as well as a source country for men and boys in forced labor within the country. The United States Department of Homeland Security, describes human trafficking as "the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Border Guard Unit</span>

The Border Guard Unit is a national security and paramilitary unit of the Customs Excise and Preventive Service Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority and the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF). Established in October 1964, BGU's primary role is to guard Ghana's international borders during peacetime and prevent trans-border crime.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Operation Community Shield (2005–present)</span>

Operation Community Shield is an ongoing multi-agency law enforcement initiative targeting violent gang members and their associates involved in the illegal drug and human trafficking industries in the United States. Since its launch by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in February 2005, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and other participating federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have made more than 40,000 gang-related arrests, including 451 gang leaders, representing more than 2,400 different gangs and organizations, and have seized more than 8,000 guns in multiple projects.

Juliana Machado Ferreira is a Brazilian scientist, a conservation geneticist, and an activist against wildlife trafficking. She is a founding member and current executive director of Freeland Brasil, whose mission is "to conserve biodiversity by ending wildlife trafficking" through the combination of scientific research, education and awareness, and public policy. She is a TED Senior Fellow.


  1. "Hidden Heroin". Nat Geo TV . National Geographic. 2 February 2010. Archived from the original on 24 December 2017. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  2. 1 2 "To Catch a Smuggler on National Geographic Channel". The Futon Critic . Retrieved February 9, 2022.