Leaders in DeKalb County will host a forum Saturday to educate residents about the signs of human trafficking and how they can help authorities fight the problem.
The event is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Saturday at the Lou Walker Senior Center on Panola Road in Lithonia.
DeKalb County officials say metropolitan Atlanta area is considered a major hub for the interstate trafficking of vulnerable individuals for sexual and other exploitation. They say people who attend the forum will learn about the nature of the crime, its visible signs, and how individuals may be able to help authorities contain and prevent its growth, FOX 5 reports.
DeKalb Interim CEO Lee May said in a statement that human trafficking is "a most horrific" crime as it targets children. He said it affects everyone in every community, and he's encouraging residents to attend the forum.
The author of a study of sex trafficking around the United States says metro Atlanta topped the list in part because of the many conventions held in the city.
According to FBI statistics, Atlanta ranks among the top 14 cities in the United States for domestic minor sex trafficking. And some 300 girls across Atlanta are lured into trafficking every month.
The report, conducted by Washington D.C.'s Urban Institutefor the U.S. Justice Department, looked at the sex trade in eight major American cities and found that Atlanta had the largest sex trade between 2003 and 2007.
"Atlanta went from $232 million to $290 million over that five year span," Meredith Dank, the lead author for the report, told WSB Radio. As a comparison, $290 million is more than the revenue generated by metro Atlanta's illegal drug and gun trade combined.
Atlanta's revenue also was far above any other city studied, with Miami second at $200 million.
The culprit? Dank says the many events and conventions in the Atlanta bring people to town with lots of time and money. Some escorts charge more than $1,000 per hour.