FEDERAL police have made an arrest in the Hunter as part of a sweeping national operation that has led to 350 charges for child abuse material.
Dubbed Operation Molto, the sweep across every Australian state and the ACT has led to 44 arrests and 16 children being removed from harm.
Its NSW arm included arrests in Rutherford and Blacktown, as well as raids in Eagle Vale and Fairfield Heights.
The Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) began investigating a year ago after a referral identified a cloud storage platform had been used to share the abhorrent material.
Police said on Friday that some of the alleged offenders they arrested, who are accused of producing their own child abuse material online, also had possession of some material made by a man arrested in 2015 as part of an international organised pedophile syndicate.
The AFP described the material as "the most abhorrent produced".
Eight NSW men have been arrested, with one child removed from harm in the state. In addition 11 Victorian men are facing 105 charges, 11 alleged offenders in Queensland will face a combined 114 allegations. Police also arrested nine men in South Australia and two in WA.
Their occupations span construction, transport, law enforcement and hospitality.
AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said victims remained in front of mind of the hundreds of police involved in the ongoing operation.
"Arresting offenders and putting them before the court is only half the battle,'' Commissioner Kershaw said. "Identifying victims is a race against time and the ACCCE's victim identification team is relentless in rescuing children from sexual abuse.
"Pixel by pixel, our investigators painstakingly look for clues and never give up and the tools they use give Australian police access to world leading expertise.
Between July last year and June 2020 AFP investigations led to 134 children being removed from harm in Australia and beyond.
During the past year the ACCCE says it has intercepted and examined more than 250,000 child abuse files and made 44 referrals to its victim identification team, including more than 4000 images and 2200 videos.