The son of soccer legend Pele, former goalkeeper Edson Cholbi Nascimento, was transferred to a high-security prison in Brazil's Sao Paulo state on Tuesday for his own safety to await trial on drug charges.
Nascimento, known as Edinho, had spent three weeks in detention at the anti-drug police headquarters after being arrested at his apartment in the port city of Santos on June 6.
Police had feared that gangsters might kill Edinho, who faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted, as part of a vendetta if he was moved to a standard prison. The penitentiary he was taken to was not identified for security reasons, police and his lawyer said.
Brazil's drug gangs are well organized within the country's prisons as well as outside and bloodshed between rival groups is frequent.
Edinho, who played as a goalkeeper for his father's old club Santos until he retired in 1999,has denied involvement with drug traffickers although he has admitted a dependency on marijuana.
The state chief of the Anti-Drugs Police, Ivaney Caires de Souza, says there is evidence Edinho had links to drug kingpin Ronaldo Duarte Barsotti, who is known as Naldinho and was arrested in the same sweep as Edinho and about 50other people.
Policesay they have recordings of phone calls in which Edinho spoke to Naldinho about how to invest money.
Pele'sfamily lawyer, Sidney Goncalves, said he hoped Edinho would be released on bail since a petition had been filed with a judge.
"Wedon't know when. It could be two or three weeks," he said.
Pele,considered the greatest soccer player of all time and still a revered figure in Brazil, has said he will stand by his son. Pele wept publicly when he visited him in jail at the police station.