In a crackdown on what might be the largest commercial child-pornography ring ever uncovered, federal authorities have arrested 100 producers, consumers and distributors of kiddie porn. 

The arrests and subsequent indictments were the result of an ongoing two-year probe by an alliance of federal, state and local authorities called "Operation Avalanche," Attorney General John Ashcroft said at a Washington, D.C., press conference Tuesday morning. 

"It started out with shut-down of the largest known commercial child-porn enterprise in history," he said. 

That enterprise was a credit-card verification service, Landslide Productions, Inc., run by a Ft. Worth, Texas, couple, Thomas and Janice Reedy. Once the user had paid via credit card, the service would provide access to Web sites that specialized in child pornography. 

Landslide reportedly grossed as much as $1.4 million per month. The profits came from the monthly fees viewers paid to access child pornography Web sites — $29.95 per month. With the Reedys keeping 40 percent of the gross, and giving the Web site operators in Russia and Indonesia the remaining 60 percent, Landslide was able to net more than $1 million in profits between 1997 and 1999, authorities said. 

"The Reedys were living very well," said Chief Postal Inspector Kenneth Weaver. "They were living in a spacious home, driving in highly priced automobiles and living a grand lifestyle at the expense of children who were sexually exploited." 

The Reedys were convicted last year on charges that included sexual exploitation of minors and distribution of child pornography. A federal judge on Monday sentenced Thomas Reedy, 37, to 89 consecutive terms of 15 years, and his 32-year-old wife, Janice, to 14 years in prison. 

Warrants have been issued for the arrest of the Web site operators overseas. 

After the Reedys were brought down, Ashcroft said, "Operation Avalanche" focused on the 250,000 subscribers to the Reedy's service. With the help of the postal inspection service, U.S. Customs Service, the FBI, the Dallas Police Department and some 30 federally funded task forces, authorities tracked down some of them using electronic and credit card information. 

Then undercover investigators posed as distributors online. When a man or woman bought child porn, the feds pounced. 

"The consumer of child pornography is no less responsible for the exploitation of children than the producer," Weaver said. 

In many cases, buying child porn turned out to be the least of other horrendous crimes, he said. 

In North Carolina, police found that one 36-year-old computer consultant had a library of videotapes of the sexual abuse of young girls. 

"One of those girls was only 4 years old," Weaver said. 

The suspect installed a pinhole camera in a smoke detector, connecting it to a VCR and a computer to record the abuse of the girls, Weaver said. 

The man was sentenced to 17 1/2 years in a federal penitentiary, and has additional state charges pending, he said. 

Also among those arrested was James Brooks Radcliff, 53, the former Sweetwater, Tenn., fire chief who was caught last year with more than 2,600 child porn files on his office computer and on disks he kept there.

Radcliff, married for more than three decades and with no criminal record, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 41 months in prison, fined $3,000 and ordered to serve three years of supervised release.

"Operation Avalanche" isn't over, Weaver said. 

"The operation will continue to grow. There were thousands of subscribers to the Web sites," he said. "We took the most egregious offenders, those who had a clear disposition to violate the law. There will be many more arrests in this operation.". 

The Associated Press contributed to this report