Son of Soccer Legend Pele Sentenced For Money Laundering

By Shawn Dwyer 06/02/14

Edson Cholbi do Nascimento was given 33 years for his role as a money launderer for South American drug cartels.

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Edinho, the son of Brazilian soccer legend Pele, has been sentenced to 33 years in prison for his role in a money laundering scheme run out of Santos, São Paulo, Brazil.

Tried under his given name of Edson Cholbi do Nascimento, Edinho was part of a gang of four others members, including cartel boss Ronaldo Duarte Barsotti, who went by the name Naldinho. Naldinho allegedly moved large shipments of drugs, including cocaine, through Rio de Janeiro, but remained a fugitive from police for five years.

According to prosecutors, Edinho was the “link between the armed and the financial parts” of Naldinho’s cartel. In fact, phone conversations were presented in court between Edinho and Naldinho discussing opening a new business. Edinho was heard on the recordings offering to “provide the name” in order to provide legitimacy to the illegal arrangement.

Edinho claimed that while he was addicted to marijuana, he was not involved in drug trafficking. But Judge Suzana Pereira da Silva thought otherwise and convicted him as well as four others, including Naldinho, to lengthy sentences. She also ordered seizures of property that were “clearly acquired with money from illegal practices.”

The third child from his father’s first marriage, Endinho was a backup goalie for Santos FC. He retired at 29 following a conviction for killing a motorcyclist during a street race. The conviction was later overturned.

Edinho is expected to appeal the current sentence and remains out of prison, though his passport has been revoked.

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.