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An AK-47 and $4 million in cash: How an Alaska bank heist ended in Tijuana

Authorities say bank vault manager, Gary Cazarez, drove away from Key Bank in Anchorage, Alaska with over $4 million dollars in tow. It wasn't until Mr. Cazarez hit Tijuana, Mexico, that things went awry.

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Most bank robbers spend weeks or even months plotting how to get access to the cash in a teller’s drawer or, even better, the vault.

Gary Cazarez had that part down cold; he was the cash vault services manager at Key Bank in Anchorage, Alaska.

On Friday, July 29, Mr. Cazarez apparently decided to chuck his job and become a multi-millionaire. It took him 28 minutes.

According to federal court documents, the 26-year-old manager used his position at the bank to gain access to the vault after hours on that Friday night. He borrowed one of the bank’s rolling carts and three empty computer-sized boxes. Once in the vault, he turned the lights off, presumably to blind the surveillance cameras.

Despite the darkness, Cazarez was apparently able to load $4.3 million into the boxes, according to an FBI affidavit. Security cameras at the bank recorded him pushing the cart and boxes out of the bank to his car in the parking lot.

After thoughtfully returning the rolling cart to the cash vault room, Cazarez drove away. At his home, he transferred the stacks of cash into duffle bags and suitcases. Then he purchased an AK-47, a handgun, and ammunition (for $4,000), met up with his girlfriend in Tacoma, Wash., and bought a Ford Fusion, the affidavit says.

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