Banged Up Abroad

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Thursday 8 December, 8.30pm

Faced with an impending manslaughter trial, Kim Hood jumps at the chance to accompany her girlfriend’s cousin to Thailand on a business trip to procure nail products for her new business. But Kim’s suspicions are aroused when Lisa starts to become highly strung during telephone dealings with her nail product supplier. Hours before their return flight home, the true nature of Lisa’s trip is finally exposed when the products delivered are not nail supplies but heroin. Kim decides she has no choice but to smuggle heroin in order to make it home in time for her manslaughter trial. Stopped at security, they are found to have 14 kilograms of drugs stashed in their bags. Sentenced to life in a squalid Thai prison, Kim wonders if she’ll ever see home again.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Thursday 17 December, 8.30pm

When Kahlilah Saleem meets big-shot music producer Roy her life is completely transformed. She moves from Philadelphia to Miami with her six-year-old daughter. But when Roy offers Kahlilah the chance to travel to Panama to see the Carnival, her hopes are turned upside-down. Roy abandons Kahlilah in Panama with a bag stuffed with eight kilograms of pure cocaine. He returns to the US and he holds her daughter hostage, forcing Kahlilah to smuggle the bag to Paris. But it’s no easy journey. Kahlilah must first travel from Panama to Costa Rica and then to Cuba. Along the way she makes friends with English backpacker Laura who is also travelling to Paris. But just before they are about to board their final flight together Kahlilah discovers Laura’s secret – she is also a drug mule. Laura makes it onto the plane but Kahlilah pays the price. She is pulled aside and caught with the drugs. After six years in prison in Cuba, Kahlilah is finally reunited with her daughter.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Thursday 10 December, 8.30pm

El Paso, 1989: Alex Silva is a bored and disaffected teenager, whose life is going nowhere fast. Worried he’ll end up on the streets, Alex’s uncle gets him a job in a tire shop. But instead of keeping his head down, Alex is distracted by some wealthy Mexican customers. Chasing the scent of money, he discovers they are drug smugglers who bring marijuana into the US from Mexico. Alex begs to be let in on the action and finds himself driving marijuana-laden cars across the border. Thinking this is easy money, he asks for a bigger job. For the next task, Alex must drive deep into unfamiliar territory and get the drugs past further checkpoints in the US. Dumb luck is on his side, and he gets away with it. By the second run he’s cocky – an attitude which is rewarded by his arrest in Mexico. What follows is a coming-of-age story as torture, imprisonment, falling in love and a jail break conspire to finally make Alex a man.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Thursday 26 November, 8.30pm

In 1993 Brendan Cosso was partying and mixing with celebrities in Hollywood. He didn’t need the money. But when the offer came to smuggle cocaine out of Brazil for $50,000, he took it. He was arrested with three friends at Sao Paulo airport. Thanks to the efforts of his father in securing a top criminal lawyer, Brendan received a sentence of four years rather than the 25 demanded by the prosecution. But he was sent to Carandiru prison, the most violent prison in South America where, a year previously, 111 prisoners had been massacred.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Thursday 19 November, 8.30pm

In 1977 Jake Stanford was fresh out of high school and headed off to Mexico in search of adventure and excitement. He got both – but not in quite the way he anticipated. Funding his stay by selling marijuana to tourists, he unwisely attempted a deal too far when he agreed to supply another American with two kilos of the drug. A resulting drugs bust saw him witness two policemen shot point blank as well as being gunshot himself. After three days holed up in a friend’s house he made a doomed escape attempt disguised as a woman before falling into the clutches of the town’s menacing chief of police, who soon made it clear he would only save his leg by confessing to a crime he didn’t commit.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Thursday 12 November, 8.30pm

Greg Williams travelled to the Philippines in 1996 in the hope of turning his life around as a church volunteer. But within days of arriving, he was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf – a brutal Islamic terrorist group linked to Al-Qaeda. Greg realised his only chance of survival was to escape.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Friday 25 September, 8.30pm

When Russell Thoresen meets gorgeous Jessica in Miami, he is enthralled. He was so under her spell she convinced him it was a good idea for him to accompany her on a drug smuggling trip to Peru. He decides he can’t leave her but vows not to do it himself. That is until she dumps him and he is forced by dealers to become a smuggler himself and the nightmare only gets worse.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Friday 18 September, 8.30pm

Nineteen year old Scott White’s having a great time in Kuwait. He’s got a fast car, a gorgeous girl and he’s in with “in” crowd. When he’s offered the chance of easy money selling drugs, he doesn’t think of the consequences until it’s too late. By that time he’s in a bizarre spiral of imprisonment, torture and insanity that ends with him trapped in the middle of Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Sunday 13 September, 9.30pm

Missionary couple Gracia and Martin Burnham were celebrating their wedding anniversary when they were brutally kidnapped by a Muslim fundamentalist group renowned for beheading their victims. For the next year the couple were to endure gunfights, beheadings and misery in this tragic and moving love story.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Sunday 13 September, 8.30pm

In 1985 Australian Chris Parnell was arrested and jailed on charges of smuggling 12 kgs of hashish into Bali. He feigned madness and was transferred to a mental ward, from which he tried to escape. But the attempt ended in disaster as he crashed through a flimsy roof back into the asylum. After this he stood trial and was sentenced to life in prison. Determined to get out and prove his innocence, he made a further daring escape attempt disguised as a woman, but was recaptured. In all, he spent 11 years in a spiralling prison nightmare which culminated in him being declared dead in a prison morgue after an attack by a gang of inmates. He miraculously survived, and was eventually granted a presidential pardon and released in 1996.