Leader of Darknet Drug Distribution Conspiracy Sentenced to Federal Prison

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PORTLAND, OREGON – The leader of and final defendant in a darknet drug distribution conspiracy was sentenced to federal prison today for his role in operating a narcotic vendor site that facilitated thousands of purchases of MDMA and generated nearly $200,000 in drug trafficking revenue, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug.

James Campbell Cardwell, 28, of Tigard, Oregon, was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release.

According to court documents, Cardwell operated a large MDMA darknet vendor site called “The Collective.” Cardwell, through The Collective, distributed nearly six kilograms of MDMA in one and ten-gram quantities. Cardwell oversaw and ran the operation from his Tigard residence. Cardwell’s three co-conspirators, Gordon Filemu Cady, 35, of Portland; Heidi Gravier, 31, of Portland; and Ruth Lacy Gloe, 38, of Salem, Oregon, conspired to import and possess with intent to distribute MDMA, ketamine and cocaine.

During a search of Cardwell’s residence in May 2018, investigators located drug packaging paraphernalia, numerous pills, digital scales, mailing envelopes, an unknown white powder, a grinder containing an unknown white powder, 11 baggies containing 21 grams of MDMA, $1,670 in cash, several cell phones and computers, and a loaded 9mm firearm. Based on a review of records seized, Cardwell was involved in more than 3,000 transactions generating more than $197,000.


In August 2018, following Cardwell’s arrest and while he was on pretrial supervision, federal agents learned he was attempting to sell the login credentials for two darknet vendor accounts that he had operated during the charged offense. Later, in November 2018, Cardwell arranged to purchase a counterfeit Canadian passport and British Columbia driver’s license so he could leave the country.

On June 26, 2018, Cardwell, Cady, Gravier, and Gloe were all indicted on drug trafficking offenses. By February 2021, all of Cardwell’s co-conspirators had pleaded guilty and been sentenced to time served in federal prison and three years’ supervised release.

This case was investigated by a HIDTA Interdiction Task Force comprised of Homeland Security Investigations and the Portland Police Bureau. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.

This case was brought as part of the Oregon-Idaho High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program. The Oregon HIDTA program was established by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in June of 1999. In 2015, the program expanded into Idaho and was renamed the Oregon-Idaho HIDTA. The Oregon-Idaho HIDTA consists of 14 counties and the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. Counties in the HIDTA include Oregon’s Clackamas, Deschutes, Douglas, Jackson, Lane, Linn, Malheur, Marion, Multnomah, Umatilla and Washington counties, and Idaho’s Ada, Bannock and Canyon counties.

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