Watch Episode How The Aztec Empire Was Built By Spies S2 E8 / 7m 43s In ancient Mesoamerica, an elite class of merchants helped build the Aztec Empire. How? By mastering the arts of spycraft, disguise, and self sacrifice. These Pochteca acquired plenty of wealth and status and they traveled between cities to collect tribute, trade for valuables, and most importantly work undercover to gather information. But this wealth and power sometimes came at a deadly cost.