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SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese customs authorities handled 2,773 cases of smuggling in the first 10 months of this year, part of a nationwide crackdown, the China Daily reported on Friday citing a senior official.

The 2017 "Sword Guarding the Country's Gate" campaign netted 233 smuggling cases involving weapons and ammunition, 474 cases related to illegal drugs and 86 related to endangered species, according to Huang Songping, a spokesman with China's General Administration of Customs.

He said 56 of the cases involved rice smuggling, with traders trying to avoid paying duties on imports worth a total of 1.6 billion yuan ($242.09 million).

Previous cases this year involved the import of Thai white sugar, with nine arrested for trying to evade customs inspections by disguising their ship as a domestic vessel and entering the port of Yancheng, which is not open to overseas traffic.

China also cracked down on an oil smuggling ring in which a criminal gang bought 400 million yuan worth of overseas oil products and sold it to gas stations in Zhejiang province, the customs authority said in a notice last month.

China's environment ministry said this week that as many as 259 people had been arrested this year for smuggling more than 300,000 tonnes of foreign waste into the country for recycling and reprocessing.

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Michael Perry)

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Reuters