The 15 New Jersey residents who landed up in the police net include two school teachers, a former minister, a family doctor, a retired pastor and several convicted sex offenders.

The arrests followed a broader probe targeting Regpay Co.Ltd, a credit card processing firm based in Belarus.

At least 20 others have been arrested in connection with investigation of Regpay, which sold memberships to dozens of child pornography Web sites including four of its own, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said they were helped in the case by the chief executive of the Florida-based firm, Connections USA. The firm helped to launder money for Regpay and its owners.

Easy money

Regpay generated $3 million in credit card payments between June 2002 and August 2003.

Regpay's Web sites were operated from Minsk in Belarus and hosted by US Internet service companies.

"Our intention is to attack child pornography at all levels –supply, demand and the illicit proceeds derived from this vile international trade," US Attorney Christopher Christie said.

"The Internet has a global reach, but so do we. That should concern the peddlers of child pornography here and abroad, as well as the users who make companies like these flourish," the attorney said.

Among those charged are four officers of Regpay. One was arrested in Paris and two others in Spain. They are awaiting extradition to the US. The fourth is still at large.