GUANGDONG customs authorities confiscated 160 million yuan (HK$214.4 million) worth of smuggled merchandise in the first half of this year, double that of the same period last year, official reports said. According to the Hong Kong China News Agency (HKCNA), the smuggled items included vehicles, cigarettes, television sets and air-conditioners. But Guangdong sources said many smugglers had secret deals with the customs officials, under which they could buy back their confiscated goods at public auctions held by customs at very low prices. Moreover, the report said customs officials from Jiangmen and Zhanjiang had joined forces in targeting smugglers who made use of foreign-registered freighters to smuggle the goods. It said 10 foreign-registered freighters had been caught for engaging in smuggling activities and Chinese customs officials had confiscated 80 million yuan worth of goods from these freighters. ''Because smuggling by freighters registered in Guangdong and other Chinese provinces is still very serious, Guangdong Customs has stepped up its surveillance over these ships,'' the report said. A total of 44 China-registered vessels have been detained for smuggling and customs officials found more than 60 million yuan worth of excisable goods such as computers, video recorders and facsimiles. on board.