Locals frightened after discovery of mystery, illegal bio lab in Fresno County, California

by WorldTribune Staff, August 1, 2023

Code enforcement officers were initially called to a warehouse in the California farming town of Reedley to investigate an illegally attached garden hose, according to local reports.

What they found was terrifying:

Chemicals removed from an illegal lab in Reedley, California. / Fresno Department of Public Health

• Nearly 1,000 bioengineered mice. Wang Zhaolin, a representative of Prestige Biotech – the company operating the lab – told county investigators that the mice were genetically engineered to catch and carry the Covid virus.

• 178 mice found dead, 773 mice euthanized after being advised by a veterinarian.

• Over 800 biological materials and chemicals, including blood, tissue and other bodily fluids, as well as thousands of unlabeled vials that contained fluids.

• Bacterial and viral agents such as chlamydia, E. Coli, streptococcus pneumonia, hepatitis B and C, herpes 1 and 5, rubella and malaria.

• A room where Covid-19 and pregnancy tests were being produced.

According to court documents, officials with the CDC tested what they could at the warehouse and determined that at least 20 potentially infectious viral, bacterial, and parasitic agents were present.

“The discovery resulted in the Fresno County Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the FBI, the California Department of Public Health and other agencies being brought in to deal with the situation,” The Sun, which covers the San Joaquin Valley, reported on July 27.

“I’ve been with the department for 30 years, and I don’t recall a similar situation,” Fresno County Public Health (FCDPH) Director David Luchini told Mid Valley Times.

FCDPH Assistant Director Joe Prado told KMPH that the lab was utilizing mice to see if the Covid test kits were testing accurately for the virus.

“Here at the public health department we operate our own lab, so we are very well versed in the legal requirements and how to maintain and control an infectious agent,” Prado told the TV station. “And there was just a complete absence of those controls in place at the warehouse.”

According to court documents, Las Vegas-based Prestige Biotech moved into the warehouse last year after its lab in Fresno was destroyed in a fire.

NBC News reported that court documents show “the other addresses provided for identified authorized agents were either empty offices or addresses in China that could not be verified.”

“This is an unusual situation. I’ve been in government for 25 years. I’ve never seen anything like this,” KRON-4 TV cited Reedley City Manager Nicole Zieba as saying.

Prestige BioTech was able to operate 35 freezers and refrigeration devices without anyone questioning the electrical draw that would be required for a building that “was supposed to be vacant,” Zieba said. When investigators entered the building on July 5, however, the power to the refrigerators and freezers “was lost” but the biological samples were still frozen.

Court documents show that “48 containers (approximately 44 gallons per container) full of biological material and medical waste” were removed on one day followed by another 31 the next day for a total of 75 containers full of biological material and medical waste.

Zieba and Prado said they wanted to remind the public that the biohazard material at the warehouse was contained and disposed of properly and at the moment there is no real public concern.

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