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updated: 5/9/2013 5:23 AM

Forum aims to shed light on human trafficking in suburbs

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A round-table discussion this weekend aims to raise awareness on sex and labor trafficking in the Northwest suburbs.

Elgin-based Administer Justice, an agency that offers free and discounted legal aid to low-income people, has joined forces with the Elgin Police Department, Willow Creek Community Church and other groups to discuss those issues during the ATLAST Human Trafficking Awareness Forum. ATLAST stands for Attorneys Targeting Labor And Sex Trafficking. The forum will be from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Gail Borden Public Library, 270 N. Grove Ave., Elgin.

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Marty Page, community impact director for Administer Justice, said the goal is to educate people with the knowledge that human trafficking happens right here at home.

Last year, Administer Justice offered legal assistance in five human trafficking cases -- two involved sex and three involved labor, Page said. This year the agency has handled two sex trafficking cases and one labor trafficking case, Page said.

"It is such a grievous injustice, I mean it really is -- it's horrible what's happening," Page said of human trafficking. "A lot of these victims are young and we've got to get people out of the mindset that this is only happening in foreign countries and it's really not our problem."

According to Elgin Police Sgt. Jim Lullo, one of the panelists scheduled to speak at the forum, sex trafficking is an infrequent issue in Elgin, but one the police department takes very seriously.

"When we come across the brothels, (police) will get search warrants and we'll hit them and we try to target the madams because they move the girls around to different locations," Lullo said.

Other panelists include representatives from World Relief, Metropolitan Family Services, Willow Creek Community Church and Kim Spagui, an ATLAST attorney with Administer Justice who has handled human trafficking cases.

There also will be a chance for the audience to ask questions and to find out how to get more involved. The event is free but registration is required. To register, visit gailborden.info/register or call the library at (847) 429-4597.

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