HAMILTON — Authorities have charged 40 men — including at least one from each of the state’s 21 counties — with charges of possessing or distributing images of child sexual abuse.

The sting illustrates just how pervasive and prevalent such pictures and videos are on the internet. The images still remain on the internet.

“This type of operation is nothing new, yet people continue to ignore the arrests and seek this depraved material regardless of the impact to the children it victimizes, or to society at large,” State Police superintendent Colonel Rick Fuentes said. “It’s widely accepted that a percentage of those obtaining child porn will be involved at some point in the sexual assault of children, so these arrests may actually prevent the abuse of some future victims."

The suspects ranged in race and ethnicities and ages from 20 to 72. They came from various walks of life and included factory workers, an accountant, computer professionals, construction workers, salesmen, a food service worker, a custodian in the Long Branch School District and a former teacher from Pennsylvania. A majority were unemployed and two were unauthorized immigrants living in the state.

The six-month investigation also resulted in the confiscation of electronic devices, including computers that each had more than a thousand pornographic images of children.

One device — allegedly belonging to John Defay, Jr., 47, of Pitman in Gloucester County — had more than 76,000 files with a complete backup. That means that spending a second on each file would take more than 21 hours straight to go through the collection.

State Police detectives said they traced the “digital fingerprint” of known child porn images transferred over file-sharing networks to specific computers and IP addresses that investigators linked to the suspects.

One suspect was busted by cops as he was in the middle of downloading even more images, authorities said Thursday.

“These offenders, by their actions, contribute in a very real and direct way to the cruel exploitation of innocent children, and that is why we remain tireless in our efforts to protect children by locking up these criminals,” Attorney General Christopher Porrino said.

A law signed by Gov. Chris Christie three years ago requires a mandatory minimum of five years in prison without parole for anyone convicted of sharing at least 25 child porn images, and guarantees some prison time for anybody convicted of possessing at least 100 child porn images.

“The message that Operation Statewide delivers to these offenders is clear: It doesn’t matter where you live or whether you think you can hide your crimes by viewing these vile images in the dark seclusion of your home, we’re monitoring you on the Internet, and we will track you down and arrest you," Porrino said.

Complete list of suspects:

Thomas Colameco, 24, Salem, Salem County

Adam Farrington, 37, Cinnaminson, Burlington County,

John Rudy, 54, Flemington

Michael Adams, 43, Newark, Essex County

Jeffrey Mace, 32 North Arlington, Bergen County

John Defay Jr., 47, Pitman Borough, Gloucester County

Shawn Bovasso, 46, Howell, Monmouth County

Fabian Maldonado-Espinosa, 31, Lakewood, Ocean County

Anthony White, 30, Lakewood, Ocean County

Armando Guerrero, 52, Milltown, Middlesex County

Omar Reina, 41, Newark, Essex County

Halil Sahin, 39, Somerville, Somerset County

Kevin Ward Jones, 29, Irvington, Essex County

Esau Rios-Osorio, 27, Vineland, Cumberland County

John Yorke, 48, Wantage, Sussex County

Alfredo Vincente, 60, Edgewater, Bergen County

Hector Romero, 20, Clifton, Passaic County

Jared Allen, 27, Wayne, Passaic County

Michael Devlin, 62, Cranford, Union County

Adolfo Reyes-Aguayo, 38, Flemington, Hunterdon County

Abeer Jaffri, 24, Morganville, Monmouth County

Enrique Estremadoyro Vergara, 34, Harrison, Hudson County

Edward C. Friedman, 60, Montague, Sussex County

Michael J. Boda, 24, Phillipsburg, Warren County

Justin Piccola, 21, Randolph, Morris County

Devin McMenamy, 30, Springfield, Union County

Robert H. Magrann, 51, Maple Shade, Burlington County

Nicholas Puppo, 40, Bordentown City, Burlington County

Robert Cohen, 20, Magnolia, Camden Count

Roy Donald, 58, Pennsauken, Camden County

Michael Kushner, 42, Cherry Hill, Camden County

Christopher Campi, 48, Gloucester City

Alfred Suez, 72, North Wildwood, Cape May County

Lawrence J. Venturino Jr., 27, Villas, Cape May County

Antonio DeLapa, 68, Bayonne, Hudson County

Moises Garcia, 21, Carteret, Middlesex County

Gregg Bilarczyk, 58, Mays Landing, Atlantic County

Randy G. Hull, 43, South Toms River, Ocean County

Brandon Adelhock, 30, Toms River, Ocean County

Bruce Davis, 55, Whiting, Ocean County (formerly of Ewing, Mercer County. Davis was charged for occurrences in both counties)