Tim Lopes, who works for TV Globo, disappeared during the night of 2/3 June while gathering information for a report on the practices of drug dealers in Vila del Cruzeiro, a "favela" in Vila de Penha (to the north of Rio de Janeiro). According to the Brazilian news agency Estado, police found charred human remains in a cellar in Vila del Cruzeiro. The remains, which could be those of the journalist, were immediately sent for DNA testing.
Tim Lopes went to Vila do Cruzeiro to investigate a complaint made by people living in Vila de Penha received by TV Globo. It was claimed that drug dealers were organising parties at which they recruited new clients and sexually abused minors. Vila de Cruzeiro is one of the "favela" in the Complexe do Alemao, a shantytown on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro controlled by the drug dealers.
In August 2001, Tim Lopes had made a series of three reports for television, entitled "The drugs fair", for which he was awarded the Esso Especial Prize for Television Journalism. Filmed with a hidden camera, the reports showed young people offering drugs to passers-by in full daylight in one of the "favela" in the Complexe do Alemao. The military police stepped up its presence in the area after the reports were broadcast on TV Globo.
The remains of journalist Tim Lópes were buried on 7 July at the Jardim da Saudade cemetery, in western Rio of Janeiro, two days after police confirmed after DNA tests by a Rio Federal University laboratory that bones found in a secret burial ground in the Grota slum area of the city were his.