Hundreds of paedophiles prowling on the Internet have been identified in an operation in 141 countries, Austrian federal police said Wednesday.
In Austria alone, operation "Carole" found 272 suspects, making it the biggest ever police sweep against child pornography in the small alpine country, police said.
The investigations, which lasted almost a year, began in Luxembourg when the operator of a root server based there reported two websites containing large quantities of child pornography to the authorities.
The websites' files, indicating a worldwide clientele, were seized by police and passed on to investigators in 141 countries, Austrian police said, without elaborating on the countries or the number of people involved.
The 272 Austrian suspects, all male and aged 17 to 70, came from all types of background and professions, including teachers and kindergarten staff.
All of them were found in possession of paedophile images or videos.
The vast majority were consumers, but in two cases, actual abuse of children could be proven, police said.
Searches at the suspects' homes turned up vast amounts of material, which were currently being examined.
In March 2011, an Europol sweep identified 670 suspects and made 184 arrests in what was then the biggest case of its kind.