Three masked robbers snatched a suitcase stuffed with millions of dollars in cash from a businessman who had just withdrawn the money from a bank in Fukuoka on Thursday, police said.
On Thursday night, however, police found men carrying a huge amount of cash at Fukuoka Airport and were questioning them as potential suspects in an alleged heist.
In the audacious daylight mugging, assailants set upon the 29-year-old victim as he dragged the case containing ¥380 million ($3.5 million) in a parking lot across the street from Mizuho Bank’s Fukuoka branch in the busy Tenjin district at around 12:25 p.m.
Police said he is a company employee from Tokyo’s Adachi Ward who was on a business trip, and that the money was for a business deal. He did not suffer any noticeable injuries in the incident.
The man was sprayed in the face with what is thought to have been tear gas by the attackers, who made off in a white van with the suitcase.
One of the suspects was wearing gray working clothes and another was wearing black working clothes with a white head covering and a mask, according to the police. The other suspect was apparently waiting in the van.
The parking lot is near Fukuoka City Hall.
The unusually large sum of cash would reportedly have weighed at least 38 kg.
The case came after local media reports in December said thieves posing as police officers had walked off with more than $5 million of gold last year in Fukuoka after telling a group of men carrying it in briefcases to hand it over.
Police in Fukuoka have refused to confirm those reports, which claimed the theft took place in July, most likely involving organized crime gangs.