by WorldTribune Staff, September 15, 2023
A government watchdog group obtained records through the California Public Records Act that confirm illicit labs owned by Chinese nationals housed biological materials in hazardous and non-compliant conditions, multiple infectious agents, and starving and dead mice.
Judicial Watch reported that its investigators also uncovered court documents which detail the deplorable conditions at the lab (which conducted Covid research), including photos of dead mice.
“Americans should know that dangerous biological research doesn’t just occur in ‘Wuhan,’ it is happening all over the United States,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.
The records show that, on May 31 of this year, Dr. Rais Vohra, then-interim health officer for the Fresno County Department of Public Health, had issued an order to Prestige Biotech to close its operations in Reedley, California, and clean up dangerous materials at the site:
“This Order is issued as a result of the City of Reedley’s attempts at gathering authorized representative contact information, repeated requests of complete lists of biologicals present, and an inspection pursuant to Health Officer Order dated April 21, 2023, which revealed biologicals in hazardous and non-compliant conditions, the presence of multiple infectious agents and pursuant to Title 17 California Code of Regulations Section 2500, and multiple City of Reedley building and fire code violations, including but not limited to, failing refrigeration, and documented out of compliance electrical additions.”
The records include an August 2023 PowerPoint presentation titled “Healthy Fresno County, Better Together, Reedley Lab Update,” written by Fresno County Asst. Director Joe Prado. The presentation includes a section titled “City of Fresno Chronology of Events,” which includes:
August 26, 2020 – Universal MediTech location experienced a small fire.
August 31, 2020 – Environmental Health CUPA inspection performed at Universal Meditech at 1320 E. Fortune Ave #102 in Fresno. EH Inspector conducted onsite visit and noted violations: failing to prepare and implement a hazardous materials business plan (HMBP) for storage of hazmat (ethanol) over state thresholds. Permit was completed and valid from 9-1-2020 through 8-31-2021. Inspections are every 3 years from initial inspection, unless complaint is received.
October 31, 2022 – FCDPH staff received a complaint from City of Fresno Code Enforcement and City Fire Department regarding chemicals stored at the Universal MediTech facility in Fresno.
November 1, 2022 – FCDPH staff visited Universal MediTech site at 1320 E. Fortune Ave #102 in Fresno. Were not able to access facility.
November 3, 2022 – FCDPH staff met City of Fresno Code Enforcement officer and property management at facility.
November 8, 2022 – No response from general manager. FCDPH staff again visited Universal MediTech site but were again not able to access facility.
November 8, 2022 – FCDPH staff received an email after visiting facility from Xiao Xiao Wang, President/CEO of Universal MediTech Inc. regarding status of facility.
November 10, 2022 – Email response to Xiao Xiao Wang regarding the hazardous materials storage and transportation requirements.
November 23, 2022 – No response back from operators or CEO/President. FCDPH staff visited Universal MediTech facility and were again not able to access facility.
The presentation includes a section titled “Reedley Chronology,” which details the investigation of the lab after it relocated to Reedley:
December 19, 2022 – City of Reedley Code Enforcement Officer contacted FCDPH regarding business found operating at 850 I Street.
December 20, 2022 – Reedley Code Enforcement citing multiple code, building, and zoning violations for business, and had concerns regarding possible hazardous materials stored at facility. Emails with the Reedley Code Enforcement, CDPH, and FDA to coordinate a response. Reedley Code Enforcement and FCDPH contacted FBI regarding potential public safety risks.
December 20, 2022 – FCDPH contacted FDA and CDPH requesting assistance regarding suspicious medical test manufacturing company.
December 21, 2022 – FBI coordinated meeting with State, Federal and Local agencies and instructed the agencies to standby until conclusion of their investigation.
January 2023 through February 2023 – Ongoing regular communication with Federal and State agencies.
February 9, 2023 – FCDPH is informed by DTSC that FBI has given State and Local agencies approval to resume civil investigation.
February 9, 2023 – Universal MediTech issues a nationwide recall of its COVID-19 test kits.
Judicial Watch investigators also uncovered court documents that include an abatement warrant. Exhibit 2 of the declaration of Code Enforcement Officer Jesalyn Harper contains graphic images of dead mice from the “mouse room” at the Reedley facility:
Upon entering the mouse room, Code Enforcement and Dr. Hahn observed a large amount of mice feces on the floor. It was undeterminable if the feces were from wild mice or if the mice in the cages had begun to kick up feces out of the cages, but photos of the feces were taken regardless because according to Dr. Hahn it was very likely a mixture of both.
Dr. Hahn confirmed the mice were in severe distress because of “barbering” taking place, the high number of visible carcasses in the cages, and the lack of “pinkies.” Barbering is a social activity with mice consistent with over grooming. When under stress the dominant mice will begin to rip the hair and skin off the less dominant mice. The lack of pinkies can be related to starvation or stress, because Code Enforcement had been trying to provide adequate food and water it is believed the cannibalism is due to stress.
Dr. Hahn recommended euthanasia due to the animal’s suffering and the lack of ability to provide adequate care for the animals.