- by Kyle Becker July 29, 2023
A secret Chinese medical laboratory replete with bioengineered mice and hazardous pathogens, including Covid, was discovered at a Reedley, California warehouse.
A joint effort between local and federal officials led to a months-long investigation into a warehouse situated in Fresno County, California. The warehouse was suspected of housing an unlawful and unpermitted laboratory filled with lab mice, medical waste, and dangerous substances.
The authorities were initially alerted to the situation in April due to an unlawfully connected garden hose at the building’s rear. The subsequent investigation unveiled a significant stockpile of unidentifiable chemicals, thousands of vials containing biohazardous substances, and a specially constructed room with approximately a thousand laboratory mice, of which 200 were found dead.
The array of pathogens discovered at the illegal facility is unsettling. As the MidValley Times reported, “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.”
Joe Prado, the Assistant Director of the Fresno County Public Health Department, revealed on Thursday that the department had been actively “reviewing and investigating the operations of an unauthorized lab” in Reedley. As a result of a legally-sanctioned abatement process carried out by the agency, all biological agents at the site were eradicated by July 7.
“The evaluation required coordination and collaboration with multiple federal and state agencies to determine and classify biological and chemical contents onsite, in addition to assessing jurisdictional authority under this unique situation,” Prado said.
The California-based laboratory traces back to a president with Chinese connections.
“Court documents identify Xiuquin Yao as the alleged president of Prestige. Neither Reedley nor FCDPH was able to obtain from Yao any substantive information regarding Prestige or why infectious agents and mice were being stored at 850 I Street other than to say that the company was developing diagnostic testing kits,” the report continued.
“Court documents include copies of an email exchange Prado conducted with David He, who identified himself as a representative of Prestige, beginning May 31 and continuing through June 13. Over the course of numerous emails, Prado repeatedly asks He to provide documentation regarding licensed medical waste disposal, Prestige’s reasons for storing infectious agents and how the company will respond to the biological abatement orders handed down by FCDPH,” the report added.
“They (Prestige) completely avoided the questions,” Prado said. “This individual (He) was either unaware or was intentionally trying to mislead us.”
The warehouse was operated under the name Prestige Biotech, and its president Xiuquin Yao was notably uncooperative during the inquiry.
NBC News reported that “Yao told officials that Prestige BioTech moved assets belonging to a defunct company, Universal Meditech Inc., to the Reedley warehouse from Fresno after UMI went under. Prestige Biotech was a creditor to UMI and identified as its successor, according to court documents.”
The report noted that, “Officials were unable to get any California-based address for either company except for the previous Fresno location from which UMI had been evicted.”
“The other addresses provided for identified authorized agents were either empty offices or addresses in China that could not be verified,” court documents said.
The MidValley Times reported that Reedley officials and personnel from CDPH and FCDPH executed a warrant on March 16 to inspect the warehouse at 850 I Street.
“I think because of that swift action that was taken we had been able to maintain public safety this entire time,” Prado said.
As reported by the California Globe’s Katy Grimes, public records requests were filed to the City of Reedly and the Fresno County Department of Public Health for information and communications between the all of the agencies, as well as any documents and materials found at the illegal lab location.
It is unknown if there are other secret Chinese laboratories across the United States, but law enforcement have opened an ongoing investigation into the matter.