Two Florida DEA Task Force Agents have been arrested after FBI investigations into drug activity. On Friday, Nassau County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant James Darrell Hickox and Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joshua Earrey were taken into custody. It is unknown if the arrests are related, but both officers have been fired from their respective posts. Both were turned in by confidential informants.
Hickox, a veteran with the NCSO since 2006, is charged with possession with intent to sell cocaine, MDMA and fentanyl. According to First Coast News:
“The complaint against Hickox was released late Monday. It says Hickox should be charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute illegal drugs, including cocaine, MDMA (ecstasy) and more than 40 grams of a substance containing fentanyl.
The complaint says the FBI probe began after a confidential law enforcement source told agents that Hickox and another officer routinely stole money and drugs from suspects. The source said the officers frequently allowed the source and a criminal associate to take a portion of confiscated drugs and cash seizures ‘off the top.’ (The complaint does not name the second officer.)
The complaint says after taking some of the confiscated cocaine for themselves, the pair would cut it the remainder with other powdery substances, ‘later submitted to the DEA to retain the original weight of the drug buy.’ The complaint says they sometimes did this ‘outside the DEA office with the consent of Sgt. Hickox and the other officer.’”
Earrey– Florida’s 2009 “Trooper of the Year”– is accused of buying Oxycodone from his own confidential source. He was arrested on charges of being an “unlawful user or addict of controlled substances in possession of a firearm.”. According to News4Jax:
“The report stated that a cooperating defendant, who was arrested for homeland security offenses in August 2022, provided information about Earrey to the Department of Homeland Security. Earrey who had back surgery in January 2023 was working light administrative desk duty through March.
The cooperating defendant told law enforcement that Earrey became addicted to Oxycodone for back pain and that he warned him about becoming addicted, the report said. The person also told law enforcement that Earrey had been buying “roxies,” which is slang for Oxycodone, for $30 a pill for at least a year, and he said that the pills came from an oxy source who had a prescription that allowed for 80 to 90 pills a month at 30 milligrams each.
The cooperating defendant was a middleman between the source and Earrey, the report stated.
According to the court document, at one point in November 2022, Earrey was having trouble paying for the drugs and wanted to split payments.
The court filing shows Earrey had 43 valid prescriptions from May 2018 to January 2023. The court document revealed over 4,500 text messages and more than 3,000 phone calls between Earrey and the oxy source.”
An acquaintance of Earrey told the FBI that Earrey owned multiple firearms during an interview. The person acknowledged a Glock and an AR-10 with a rifle scope. According to the report, the weapons were manufactured outside of Florida and Earrey “possessed them in an affecting interstate or foreign commerce.”
If convicted, Hickox faces a minimum mandatory of 5 years up to 40 years in prison, a $5 million fine and a minimum of four years of probation. Earrey faces 15 years.
Regarding Hickox, Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper released a statement:
“I believe we must make sure law enforcement officers who break the law are held accountable. I was shocked, disappointed, disgusted and beyond angry when I heard the allegations against Sergeant Hickox. He has let down his co-workers, our community, thrown away his career, as well as embarrassed his family. I am firmly committed to holding our employees to the highest ethical standards. Although law enforcement officers are human and humans make mistakes, his actions are unforgivable. We will do whatever it takes to ensure we are holding ourselves accountable. That means we will be looking at our policies and procedures to review anything that could be changed to prevent anything like this from happening again. I want to thank the FBI for their investigation into these crimes while Sergeant Hickox was assigned as a Task Force Officer for DEA in Jacksonville. Our profession relies heavily on trust and I will never tolerate this type of conduct at the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office. His poor judgement and criminal behavior should not reflect negatively on all the good men and women at NCSO who go out every day and do it the right way to keep our citizens safe.”
“His credibility is completely diminished at this point,” said Lauren Prater, an attorney unaffiliated with this case about Earrey. “So any case that he’s involved in all of sudden is tainted. He really did a disservice to his agency.”