Thomas “Elvine” Cheung, who was arrested February 2, 2019 with 20 other men, was released on bail February 6 at 3:05 AM.
Elvine was just one among 169 people arrested “during an 11-day investigation into human trafficking throughout metro Atlanta leading up to the Super Bowl.” The goal of investigations such as Operation Interception is to, “rescue any children or young adults.” Elvine was charged with using a computer service (the Whisper app) to seduce, solicit, lure or entice a child to commit an illegal act, which is a felony offense.
According to Cheung’s arrest warrant,
Cheung started communicating with a person he thought was a 14-year-old girl through the dating app, "Whisper." The person Cheung was communicating with was actually an undercover agent with the Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce.
During the conversation Cheung allegedly told the undercover agent that he wanted to meet up for sex and was aware that he was talking to someone who appeared to be underage, according to the warrant. Cheung allegedly asked to meet in the parking lot of a Kroger on Johnson Ferry Road in Brookhaven.
According to the warrant, Cheung stated in his messages to the undercover agent that he "wanted to show her some things" and that he didn't like using a condom. He continued to talk to the undercover agent through text messaging and sent explicit messages, police said.
He arrived to the Kroger at 12:45 a.m. on Jan. 31 and was taken into custody by the Southeast Fugitive taskforce, according to the warrant.
Elvine’s court date is scheduled for February 14, 2019.
**The headline was edited to reflect a correction**
In DeKalb County, GA, Elvine and 20 others were arrested in an undercover Super Bowl child sex-crimes operation.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation conducted an undercover investigation ending in the arrest of 21 people over five days for child pornography and sex trafficking crimes. The GBI issued a press release.
Operation Interception" was coordinated by the Georgia Internet Crimes Against children (ICAC) Task Force, the GBI's Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes unit (CEACC), Brookhaven Police Department, Dekalb County District Attorney's Office and the United States Marshals Service Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force.
WGXA TV reports that the men "were charged with Computer or Electronic Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act of 2007 and/or Trafficking of Persons for Labor or Sexual Servitude."
The GBI said that their goal was to "arrest person who communicate with children online, have sexually explicit conversations and then travel to meet them for the purpose of having sex." Those arrested engaged in sexually explicit conversations with and intended to meet with whom they believed to be children.
Investigators posed as children on popular dating apps and noted that "most of the suspects were interacting with multiple investigators who were posing as children."
Among those arrested was Elvine, a partnered Twitch streamer known for streaming World of Warcraft and helping players with guides on making in-game gold. Elvine was also a Community Specialist for Hi-Rez Studios' Smite community for four months.
Hi-Rez Studios CEO and President, Stew Chisam, issued a statement to PCGames:
On Monday, February 4th, we learned through local news that Thomas Cheung was arrested in an operation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations. At this point, we know only what has been reported in the local news and by local law enforcement, and cannot comment on specifics of Mr. Cheung’s case, other than to say that, as of today, Mr. Cheung is no longer employed by Hi-Rez Studios.
As a parent, it is difficult to imagine more disturbing allegations than those laid out in the news reports. We commend the efforts of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations and other law enforcement to protect our state’s children and to send a strong message that the behavior targeted in their Operation Interception will not be tolerated in Georgia.
Elvine's Twitch account has also been disabled, though Twitch has yet to issue a statement regarding Elvine's arrest. Twitch and the gaming community has long wrestled with sexual harassment and sexual assault, but child pornography and sex trafficking is new and frightening territory. And while there are many in the WoW and streaming community who were shocked by the emerging details, there are members of the community who have encountered Elvine and say that they were not in the least bit surprised.
That his behavior toward female streamers and gamers was this atrocious, Elvine’s arrest in this child sex sting is a reminder that, as a community, we need to take sexual harassment, assault and abuse very seriously. We need the tech companies like Twitch to not just slap streamers on the wrist when they beat their pregnant wife on live stream. We need these companies to hold those who would harm others to a higher standard.