When state and federal agents raided an El Monte garment factory in 1995, they confirmed that slavery is a reality in modern America. Nationwide, some 40 to 50,000 people are being held in various forms of involuntary servitude. That's according to Kevin Bales, president and co-founder of Free the Slaves, a Washington nonprofit that's in Los Angeles tonight to give out its Free the Slaves Freedom Awards. Maria Suarez was sold into slavery here in Los Angeles at the age of 15. Purchased for $200, she was kept for five years in the home of a man who subsequently was murdered. The killer blamed Maria, and she served 23 years in prison before she was exonerated.