Man who was Nassau deputy, DEA Task Force Officer pleads guilty to drug distribution conspiracy

Wooden judges gavel on wooden table, close up

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A now-former Nassau County Sheriff’s Office sergeant and DEA Task Force Officer pleaded guilty to several federal charges, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

James Darrell Hickox, 38, of Callahan, pleaded guilty to the following charges:

  • Conspiring to distribute narcotics
  • Conspiring to defraud the United States
  • Tax evasion


According to Hickox’s plea agreement, he and a co-conspirator “engaged in extensive corrupt activity from 2017 to 2023. These acts included the theft of money and illegal drugs that were seized as evidence during criminal investigations; providing illegal drugs (including fentanyl and cocaine) to others to distribute on his behalf; and hiding from the Internal Revenue Service more than $420,000 Hickox had received as a result of his criminal activities. Hickox and his co-conspirator stole more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana from evidence and provided the drugs to others to sell on their behalf. They had covered up the theft by submitting falsified paperwork showing that the marijuana had been destroyed. Similarly, the conspirators stole a kilogram of cocaine from evidence and gave it to a drug dealer to sell for them.”

Hickox was with NCSO for 17 years and served as a former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Task Force Officer from March 2014 through September 2022.

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Action News Jax told you when Hickox was arrested by the FBI in March 2023, which is also when his employment with NCSO was terminated.

NCSO provided the following information on Hickox’s career with the agency:

  • Started his career with NCSO January 5, 2006 as a Detention Deputy.
  • Transferred to the Patrol Division in 2006 and served as a School Resource Officer and then as a patrol deputy.
  • Transferred into the Narcotics Unit on October 6, 2011.
  • In March 2014 was assigned to the DEA Jacksonville District Office as a Federal Task Force Officer.
  • Received an award for being the DEA Co-Investigator of the Year for 2019.
  • Promoted to Patrol Sergeant in June 2022, transferred to Sergeant over Civil/Warrant Division on July 18, 2022.
  • Terminated employment and arrested by the FBI on March 10, 2023
  • No discipline on file

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This case is being investigated by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, with assistance from United States Customs and Border Protection. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney William Hamilton.

Hickox faces a combined maximum penalty of 50 years in prison, including a minimum mandatory sentence of five years in prison for the drug distribution conspiracy.

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