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Narcotics officer facing drug trafficking charges in Nassau County had squeaky clean record

Former Nassau County Sgt. James Darrell Hickox had 'never been disciplined' before he was fired following an FBI raid on his home.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A former Nassau County narcotics agent had never been in trouble before FBI officers raided his home Friday, reportedly finding large quantities of illegal drugs and stacks of cash. 

Responding to a request from First Coast News for Sgt. James Darrell Hickox's discipline file, the Nassau County Sheriff's Office responded, "There is not one. He’s never been disciplined.”

Hickox worked with the Nassau County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Unit and as a DEA Task Force Officer between 2014 until 2022. According to a federal criminal complaint released Monday, Hickox should be charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute illegal drugs including cocaine, MDMA (ecstasy) and at least 168 grams of fentanyl.  

Investigators also found more than $176,000 in cash, bank records from 10 accounts showing cash deposits of $86,962, and approximately $260,000 in credit card bills, much of it repaid in cash "at physical ATMs." 

A search of his marked NCSO cruiser yielded three cell phones, two of them prepaid Boost Mobile phones.

The FBI search included both Hickox's Callahan home and a detached garage with a sign that read, "Gator's Man Cave." 

Though Hickox's record with the NCSO is spotless, "his wife had her doubts. She told investigators that she suspected something was amiss. 

In a March 10 interview following the raid, she told the FBI "that she had seen things around the house that appeared to be drugs, but that Hickox always told her the items were not real drugs and were 'work related.'"

According to the complaint, she told investigators that "approximately one week before her interview, she had entered the detached garage to get milk from the refrigerator and had noticed two unusual cardboard boxes."

The complaint says she confronted Hickox, and he told her that the boxes contained fake drugs used for buy/bust operations.

The complaint says she stated she was not surprised that the agents found drugs as she suspected Hickox was not honest with her in the past about items she questioned him about.

Hickox was booked Friday into the Duval County Jail. 

In federal court Monday, he was dressed in a white button down, with dark dress pants and shoes. He elected to return to custody, rather than asking for an immediate pretrial hearing. His attorney said they would wait until an indictment is filed, telling the judge there were still a lot of things "going on behind the scenes" in the case. 

A second law enforcement agent, Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joshua Earrey, was also arrested Friday by the FBI on charges of being an "unlawful user or addict of controlled substances" in possession of a firearm.   

The two men were both members of the DEA Task Force at the same time, but it's not known if the cases are related.

According to the Hickox complaint, the FBI probe began after a confidential source said Hickox and "another law enforcement officer" routinely stole money and drugs from suspects. The complaint does not name the second officer.

If convicted, Hickox faces a minimum mandatory of five years up to 40 years in prison. He would also face up to a $5 million fine and a minimum of four years of probation.

He is due back in court March 23.  

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