In Reedley, California, located in Fresno County, an illegal bio lab was uncovered on March 3rd, within a building that was thought to be vacant.
The discovery was made when city code enforcement personnel stumbled upon the site in December 2022 and noticed a garden hose running into the building through a hole in the wall. Taking the necessary steps, they obtained a warrant to thoroughly inspect the property in March. Subsequently, in April, the Fresno County Department of Public Health also ordered an inspection of the facility to address the concerning situation.
According to the Mid Valley Times:
According to a declaration from Humero Prado, Assistant Director of Fresno County Public Health, which was filed in superior court, investigators discovered that one room of the warehouse was used to produce COVID-19 and pregnancy tests. In other rooms, investigators found blood, tissue and other bodily fluid samples. They also found thousands of vials that contained unlabeled fluids.
Over 900 mice were located at the facility. Court documents identify Wang Zhaolin as the Prestige representative onsite during the investigation. Zhaolin informed the investigators that “these mice were genetically engineered to catch and carry the COVID-19 virus.” Court documents describe the conditions under which the mice were housed as “inhumane.”
From May 2 through May 4, the CDC’s Division of Select Agents and Toxins inspected 850 I Street. Court documents confirm the CDC found potentially infectious agents at the location. These included both bacterial and viral agents, including chlamydia, E. Coli, streptococcus pneumonia, hepatitis B and C, herpes 1 and 5 and rubella. The CDC also found samples of malaria.
That phone call launched an investigation that would eventually involve the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the FBI, the State Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the State Department of Health, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and FCDPH, and would lead to the discovery of a lab that had been operating illegally in the city since October 2022. For FCDPH Director David Luchini and FCDPH Assistant Director Joe Prado, the amount of biological materials and chemicals – over 800 – found at the lab was a first.
Prestige BioTech, a company purported to be operating the illegal bio lab, has its headquarters in Nevada and is recognized as the successor to Universal Meditech, Inc (UMI). The FDA’s recall announcement in December 2022 affected over 56,000 “Skippack Medical Lab” Rapid Anti-Gen COVID-19 tests, which were distributed by UMI to California and Texas.
During inquiries about accountability and ownership of the company, a representative of Prestige BioTech named David He skillfully evaded answering questions. The issue of proper disposal of hundreds of dead mice also remained unanswered. Furthermore, Prestige neither confirmed nor denied whether the biologics found in the lab belonged to them.
Despite the lab supposedly being within a vacant building, Prestige BioTech managed to operate 35 freezers and refrigeration devices without arousing suspicion regarding the significant electrical draw that such an operation would require, as noted by City Manager Nicole Zieba. However, on July 5th, when investigators entered the premises, the power to the refrigerators and freezers had been cut off, though the biological samples inside were still found frozen.
According to court documents, a substantial amount of hazardous material was discovered and removed from the site. On one occasion, 48 containers, each holding approximately 44 gallons of biological material and medical waste, were taken away, followed by an additional 31 containers on the next day, totaling 75 containers filled with such materials.
According to court documents reported by NBC News, court documents claim “the other addresses provided for identified authorized agents were either empty offices or addresses in China that could not be verified.”