Skip to main content

Former Deputy Sheriff and DEA Task Force Officer Pleads Guilty to Drug Distribution, Fraud, and Tax Evasion

Jacksonville, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announced that James Darrell Hickox (38, Jacksonville) has pleaded guilty to three significant federal charges: conspiring to distribute narcotics, conspiring to defraud the United States, and tax evasion. Hickox faces a combined maximum penalty of 50 years in federal prison, including a minimum mandatory sentence of 5 years for the drug distribution conspiracy. Additionally, he has agreed to forfeit all money, firearms, and ammunition traceable to his criminal activities.

Extensive Corruption and Criminal Activity

From 2017 to 2023, Hickox, while serving as a Nassau County Deputy Sheriff and designated Task Force Officer with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), engaged in extensive corrupt activities. According to the plea agreement, Hickox, along with a co-conspirator, participated in a series of crimes that included the theft of money and illegal drugs seized as evidence during criminal investigations. Hickox supplied illegal drugs, such as fentanyl and cocaine, to others for distribution on his behalf, and concealed over $420,000 in illicit earnings from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Theft and Distribution of Illegal Drugs

The criminal activities of Hickox and his accomplice were extensive. They stole more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana from evidence, distributing it through third parties. To cover up the theft, they falsified paperwork to show that the marijuana had been destroyed. They also stole a kilogram of cocaine from evidence and provided it to a drug dealer for distribution.

Federal Investigation and Evidence Seizure

A federal search warrant executed at Hickox’s residence on March 10, 2023, revealed approximately 263 grams of fentanyl-laced powder and cocaine, which Hickox intended to distribute. The search also uncovered a rifle illegally modified to function as a machine gun, four additional firearms seized during law enforcement investigations, and over $195,000 in cash proceeds from his criminal activities. One of the firearms had its serial number obliterated by Hickox. Furthermore, a search of his workspace at the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office uncovered 260 methamphetamine pills.

Cooperative Investigation and Prosecution

The case was meticulously investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the IRS – Criminal Investigation, with significant assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Assistant United States Attorney William S. Hamilton is prosecuting the case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI, IRS – Criminal Investigation, and CBP express their gratitude to the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office and the DEA for their cooperation during this investigation.

This case highlights the severe consequences of corruption within law enforcement and the diligent efforts of federal agencies to uphold justice and integrity. Hickox’s guilty plea serves as a reminder that no one is above the law, and those who betray their oath will be held accountable.