30 October 2012

Tim Lopes

(November 18, 1950 - June 2, 2002) Date of death: He disappeared on June 2, 2002. Statements made by two arrested drug traffickers indicate that he was murdered between 10:00 p.m. and 12:00 midnight of June 2, 2002. Place and circumstances of death: Around 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 2 Lopes set out for the Vila Cruzeiro shantytown in the Penha neighborhood, a suburb of Rio de Janeiro, with a miniature camera hidden in a fanny pack that he wore on his waist to tape a funk dance organized by drug traffickers. He had received a complaint from the residents of the shantytown that at the dance there would be sexual exploitation of minors and the sale of drugs. He was also going to investigate a report that the drug traffickers were building a children’s park in a road leading to the shantytown to make it difficult for police action and that they were parading around armed with rifles. Probable cause: Lopes’ presence at the scene puzzled the drug traffickers. There is a suspicion that once his identity was discovered his death was a certainty in reprisal for a previous report on drug dealing in the shantytowns broadcast in August 2001 by TV Globo. Following that report, several drug traffickers were jailed and drug dealing in the area suffered a setback for a while. Another theory is that Lopes was taken to be a police officer or informer. Suspects: According to witnesses, Lopes’ death was decided by drug trafficker Elias Pereira da Silva, a.k.a. Elias Maluco, one of the leaders of the Comando Vermelho crime gang ruling the Complexo do Morro do Alemão complex, comprising 12 shantytowns. Investigations indicate that eight other traffickers from his gang took part, among them, André da Cruz Barobsa, a.k.a. André Capeta, Ângelo Ferreira da Silva and Elizeu Felício de Souza, a.k.a. Zeu. Prior to the murder, the drug traffickers held a kind of trial to decide on whether Lopes should be killed, and he was tortured before being put to death.
Place of birth: Pelotas, Rio do Grande do Sul state, Brazil Age at death: 51 Marital status: He had lived with Alessandra Wagner for the past 10 years Children (names and ages at time of father’s death): Bruno, 19, son by his first marriage, and Diogo, 15, Alessandra’s son Education: Journalism studies at the Hélio Alsonso School, Rio de Janeiro Profession/position: Reporter and network producer for TV Globo since 1996 Background in journalism: He first worked at Samuel Wainer’s magazine Domingo Ilustrada as a messenger. When he started street reporting he came to be known as Tim Lopes. According to friends, Wainer gave him this pen name. He worked at the now defunct newspaper O Repórter, at the magazine O Placar, and at the Rio de Janeiro newspapers O Globo, Jornal do Brasil and O Dia. Hobbies/leisure activities: He was fond of running on the beach. Once, in the São Silvestre race that was run traditionally on New Year’s Eve in São Paulo, Lopes ran with Minister João Sayad. He was a fan of the Vasco de Gama soccer team. He was the founder of the carnival group “Simpatia é quase amor” (Sympathy Is Almost Love). Other activities or roles: He acted as a judge of the samba schools in the Carnival. He was writing a book with reporter Alexandre Medeiros on the samba and Mangueira, the neighborhood where he grew up. Awards: In 2001 he was awarded the Esso Prize along with the TV Globo crew for a report titled “Drug Party,” in which, using a hidden camera, he exposed open drug dealing in the Complexo do Morro do Alemão complex. It was the first Esso award in the television category. He also received the 11th and 12th Abril Journalism Awards for spot news reporting with his reports “Tricolor de Coração” (Tricolor of the Heart), published in the magazine Placar in December 1985, and “Amizade sem Limite” (Friendship Without Bounds) written in May 1986. In February 1994 he won a prize for the best reporting in the newspaper O Dia for his series “Funk: som, alegria e terror” (Funk: Sound, Joy and Terror) - ironically, the same theme of his last report for TV Globo.