A case of poisoning that has hit the quiet, rural communities of Nagano Prefecture may have been the act of a person familiar with the operation of the local supermarket where cyanide-laced cans of oolong tea were placed, police officials said Friday.
Nagano Prefectural Police said Friday that they have mobilized 130 police officers to investigate the case of a 58-year-old resident in Obuse who died Monday shortly after drinking a cyanide-tainted can of oolong tea he bought at Sun, a supermarket in the nearby city of Suzaka.
The victim, Ichijuro Nakazawa, was originally believed to have died of cardiac arrest. But after hearing reports of poisoned tea found Tuesday at Sun, Nakazawa’s family found that the can he drank from had also been tampered with. There was a small hole at the bottom of the can, which was sealed with a transparent adhesive, and police discovered a cyanide compound from the tea that remained in the can.
Nakazawa is believed to have bought the poisoned drink around noon Sunday. On Tuesday, the owner of the supermarket reported to police that he spat out some bitter-tasting oolong tea from a can that was on his store’s shelves.
Police discovered a lethal dose of cyanide in the can, which had been tampered with. Officials said there was enough cyanide in the drink to be fatal. Local police now believe that the two poisoned cans were placed on the supermarket shelves by the same person — the first one on Sunday and the second one on Tuesday.
Sun is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and normally receives about 2,000 to 2,500 customers over the weekend. The shop was also crowded on Tuesday because it had a 5 percent discount sale.
There are no security cameras in the store, and only three shopkeepers patrol the store once every few hours, the police officials said. Local police are searching for anyone who may have seen someone suspicious in or around the supermarket. Police are also trying to determine if the store was in any kind of trouble.
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