HIS fans saw him as a crime-fighting hero who exposed brutal murders on his TV show Canal Livre – which was Brazil's equivalent of Crimewatch.
But respected presenter Wallace Souz was secretly ordering hitmen to kill local people so his crew could film their corpses and boost ratings on his own show.
The popular TV host secretly had drug dealers set on fire and ordered gangland hits by moped riders, all the while pretending to solve the crimes on the weekly show – and his story is told in a new Netflix series, Killer Ratings.
Canal Livre covered vicious murders, with its cameras often on site before police, and ex-policeman Wallace used it as a platform to gain support by condemning corruption and lawlessness among authorities.
"We have to put an end to the scourge of crime and to the politicians who do not fight it,” he said, once adding, “The only good delinquent is a dead delinquent.”
But in 2009, Wallace was thrust into turmoil when he was charged with running a criminal organisation and hiring hitmen to carry out the killing of at least five people.
A disgraced policeman
Wallace's initial career in the police force ended in disgrace when he was accused of being involved in a college exams fraud scheme he was investigating in 1987 and he was accused extorting criminals.
He quickly moved on to become a TV star in and participated in house raids armed with pistols.
Nothing was off limits, with Wallace seen beating up suspects and one episode showing a charred corpse burning in the jungle.
“It smells like a barbecue," the reporter said. "It is a man.
"It has the smell of burning meat. The impression is that it was in the early hours… it was an execution.”
Wallace built his popularity from his viewers' thirst for violent crimes, declaring at the start of each episode: "Nowadays everyone is killing."
Too good to be true?
But police became suspicious after noticing Canal Livre would often get to crime scenes before them and report very detailed accounts of murders – in some cases even live footage of the crime itself.
"Crimes were committed in order to create news for the group and for the programme," said local police intelligence chief Thomaz Augusto Correa at the time.
Wallace contested this, insisting his show acted so fast thanks to tip-offs from the local morgue and a 24-hour TV crew which was always on standby.
But his secret life began to unravel in October 2009 when his former bodyguard, Moacir Jorge da Costa, was arrested.
The programme was a hit in a remote, lawless city in the Amazon jungle
Da Costa told police that he worked for Wallace and that the host had ordered a murder and then covered it on his show to boost ratings.
After his confession, 15 more drug trafficking gang members, said to be led by Wallace, were arrested.
The host's son Rafael was also taken into custody, as were several senior police officers and a former producer of the show called Vanessa Lee.
Da Costa also claimed that Wallace and Rafael were involved in a plot to murder a federal judge.
'It's a conspiracy'
Wallace denied everything and claimed the accusations were part of a conspiracy started by his political rivals.
“There is a plot against me," he said.
"Possibly by the organised crime itself, which has great power and is trying to destroy me politically.
"Unfortunately, through part of the media they are managing to do so.
"Portraying me as a person linked to crime, when in reality I have spent my entire life fighting against it.”
On the run
When Wallace was charged in October 2009 he was expelled from the assembly, stripped of his seat and kicked out of the Partido Popular party.
After his arrest police raided his house and uncovered more than £100,000, as well as an arsenal of high-calibre assault rifles and spent bullet casings which investigators believe might have been removed from crime scenes.
Wallace was presented with multiple charges and then went on the run – although he still denied everything.
Police set up road blocks to prevent him leaving Manaus, with 60 officers hunting for him, and his lawyer and family members desperately tried to negotiate with authorities.
His private secretary, Isabella Siqueira, said that Wallace was being targeted because of his involvement with investigations into the smuggling of drugs and weapons into prisons in Manaus.
Wallace eventually gave himself up, but continued to protest his innocence until his death from a heart attack while awaiting trial in 2010.
Killer Ratings begins on Netflix on Friday 31 May.
Director Bogado said: “What I thought I knew about Wallace Souza when I set out, turned out only to be the starting point of this extraordinary story.
"When I looked deeper, I saw the events that followed were full of the most jaw-dropping turns, twists and shocks which would be deemed too outlandish in a Hollywood script.”
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