Australians participated in child abuse which fuelled an international network of websites selling pay-per-view video and still images of sickening child porn, authorities say.

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A coalition of detectives from seven countries and Interpol has shut down 230 websites, first set up in the US and then run from eastern Europe.

The first phase of the investigation, begun by US authorities in 2006, identified 30,000 customers in 132 countries accessing the degrading pictures and videos.

Authorities, having already caught many of those alleged to have run the sites, now expect to begin arresting customers, having secured their credit card and other personal details.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) assistant commissioner Neil Gaughan says it’s clear some of the abuse featured on the websites originated in Australia.

Bags or other items featured in the backgrounds of some of the images had led detectives to that conclusion, he added.

“There’s been a few photos from Australia found,” he told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

“The Australians are not immune from producing this sort of material.”

The websites were also accessed by Australians, he said.

Authorities finally shut down the sites in August this year.

This ended a four-year process which resulted in hundreds of convictions in the US and the arrest of the website’s ringleaders in eastern Europe.

The US kicked off the investigation in 2006 under the codename Operation Flicker, sparked by a single tip-off.

That led to the initial wave of arrests and convictions and many of the websites involved being closed.

But some resurfaced, run from Belarus, sparking a second wave of investigations, led by the US authorities and joined by the coalition of police forces in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Italy, Canada and the United Arab Emirates.

The AFP’s role was to carry out test purchases and technical analysis of the sites and pass that information to the US.

The international force made 11 arrests in Belarus, with the offenders being sentenced to prison terms between three and 12 years.

The five additional arrests in the Ukraine were made in January this year.

“These were high level individuals, they were obtaining the photos from other websites, other organisations,” said Luis Alvarez from the Department of Homeland Security, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“They were purchasing them and they were actually putting them on those websites … selling it, distributing it to subscribers.”

Mr Gaughan said the police coalition, working under the banner of the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT), was crucial.

“The investigation is ongoing and like we do with any investigation of this nature we’re not going to divulge the extent of where we’re at,” he added.

“But as Luis rightly pointed out, a significant number of arrests have taken place in the US and the rest will continue to take place globally.

“At this stage we’re looking at the Australian angle.

“We’ve made no arrests in Australia at this stage.”

The smashing of the websites was announced on Wednesday as members of the VGT met ahead of a conference in Sydney on Thursday and Friday.