COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Three Columbus men are facing the possibility of life in prison for their roles in an alleged child sex trafficking operation.

Rodney Dobbs, 25, Zachary Bailey, 24, and Rashid Rush, 22, appeared in Federal Court Thursday morning charged with Sex Trafficking of Children, Conspiracy and Transportation of Minor for Criminal Sexual Activity.

They appeared in front of Magistrate Judge Stephen Hyles, who read the charges and appointed all three defendants lawyers. The three were originally facing charges in Muscogee County Superior Court, but the cases have been moved into the federal system, where the punishments if convicted are more severe.

Dobbs, Bailey and Rush were indicted by a federal Grand Jury on Sept. 15, but the indictment was under seal until recently.

The indictment alleges that the three men did, “knowingly, recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide, obtain, advertise, maintain, patronize, and solicit by any means Minor 1 knowingly in reckless disregard that of the fact that Minor 1 had not attained the age of 18 years old, and would be caused to engage in commercial sex act.”

The government asserts that the crime occurred between Jan. 1, 2019 and Sept. 30, 2020. The indictment says the child was transported for criminal sexual activity on March 31 and April 1, 2020.

“I imagine that things now that feds are involved will move much more quickly,” said Robert Wadkins Jr., who represents Bailey. “It’s early days. We don’t have all the discovery yet. We don’t have all the facts yet.”

Dobbs, Bailey, Rush and others were indicted on May 6 by a Muscogee County Superior Court Grand Jury on 15 counts that ranged from sexual servitude to pimping.

Former District Attorney Mark Jones sought the Superior Court indictment. He was removed from office in November after being convicted of criminal misconduct while in office.

The federal indictment, which takes precedence over the Superior Court indictment, is much more streamlined.

In the federal system, unlike State of Georgia cases, there is no parole. If someone is convicted, they serve the entire sentence.

If convicted on Count 1 of the federal charge, the defendants face life in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. If convicted on Count 2, the sentence range is 10 years to life in prison with up to a $250,000 fine.