In a major crackdown on child porn, the Australian police have arrested 31 persons across the country.
The online child sex exploitation team had tracked them for six months, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) announced Wednesday.
More than one million images were seized during Operation Irenic including pictures of infants and young teenagers involved in sexual acts.
A former NSW police officer is among those arrested in two Australia-wide police operations.
The ex-policeman had been previously arrested in a 2004 pornography sting and had just completed a good behaviour bond.
Police are sifting through more than the photographs and videos seized.
"The images that our officers view and that we seize are not images of children in sexual poses. These are images of children getting raped and abused and tortured," the acting national manager of high tech crime operations, Kevin Zuccato, said.
He said the victims, ranging from infants to teenagers, were Caucasian and Asian in appearance and their nationalities were yet to be determined.
The men arrested for downloading the images were aged between 30 and 70 and were from various sectors and no direct links had been found between them.
"We see individuals who come from all walks of life and that is what is particularly troubling about these types of offences. It is very difficult to categorise them," Zuccato said.
He said a forensic psychologist, a television station worker, teachers, an animal welfare activist and a 70-year-old retiree were among the arrested. Some were known to police for child sex exploitation offences.
Authorities have removed one NSW child who was at direct risk of being abused.
"That child and others can go to bed this christmas and expect only Santa Claus as a visitor," Zuccato said.
He said the child was in the presence of a person who had been downloading child abuse images was being actively prepared for abuse. He could not comment on the man's relationship to the child.
He warned parents should be particularly vigilant at Christmas when kids will be given computers and mobile phones with internet capabilities.
"Parents should be just as vigilant...in their child's online experiences as they are in their offline experiences," Zuccato said.
"Protecting Australian children is an absolute priority for law enforcement agencies worldwide and the Virtual Global Taskforce has been able to combine resources to ensure this borderless crime does not go undetected and unpunished," he noted. The AFP was actually acting on a tip off from the Interpol.
Zuccato also praised the way in which police forces from across Australia worked cooperatively throughout the investigation.
"This shows that offenders who try to remain anonymous by using the internet to commit offences can and will be caught. Police have a variety of ways to identify them, disrupt their activities and bring them to justice," he said.