(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it received 29 pages of records through the California Public Records Act that confirm illicit labs owned by Chinese nationals housed biologicals in hazardous and non-compliant conditions, multiple infectious agents, and starving and dead mice. Judicial Watch investigators also uncovered court documents which detail the deplorable conditions at the lab (which conducted “COVID” research), including photos of dead mice.
The documents were produced by the Fresno County Department of Public Health (FCDPH) in response to a request for:
Records and / or communications maintained by the Fresno County Public Health Department, including emails, email chains, email attachments, text messages, meeting minutes, interviews, voice recordings, video recordings, photographs, correspondence, statements, letters, memoranda, reports, briefings, affidavits, inspections, presentations, notes, or other form of record, regarding Prestige BioTech and Universal Meditech Inc.
Prestige Biotech reportedly runs Universal Meditech, Inc.
The records show that, on May 31, 2023, Dr. Rais Vohra, then-interim health officer for the Fresno County Department of Public Health, had issued an order to Prestige to close its operations in Reedley, CA, 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 Co. Asst. Dir. 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, CA:
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.
February 24, 2023 – Multi-agency meeting to coordinate investigation of Prestige Biotech.
CDPH Food & Drug Branch to take lead on investigation of medical devices.
March 3, 2023 – FCDPH staff met at City of Reedley Fire Department with CDPH, DTSC, City of Reedley Police, Fire, Code Enforcement, and Building Inspector.
City of Reedley posted Unsafe to Occupy Notice on front door of building.
March 16, 2023 – FCDPH staff met with CDPH, DTSC, and City of Reedley and briefed on inspection warrant.
Met with Consultant for Prestige Biotech.
CDPH Food & Drug Branch staff went through and embargoed the unapproved medical test kits and medical supplies.
March 22, 2023 – FCDPH meets with Health Officer, CAO, and BOS member on the Reedley Lab situation.
State and Federal authorities stated that abatement is the County’s responsibility
FCDPH emailed Prestige President requesting complete inventory of all materials onsite that pose a public safety risk.
Communication and requests for inventory continued through April with incomplete and delayed responses from business representative.
June 15, 2023 – Filed with Superior Court an Abatement Warrant to destroy all biologicals.
June 23, 2023 – Judge of the Superior Court signs Abatement Warrant.
June 26, 2023 – Abatement warrant issued by Superior Court.
July 5-7, 2023 – Biological materials in approximately 36 refrigerators/freezers were properly removed and transported for destruction by licensed contractor.
Under the heading “Next Steps,” the presentation notes that investigations by the health department, FDA, California Department of Public Health, the health department’s Food and Drug Branch, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were ongoing.
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 server 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.
“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.
In November 2022, Judicial Watch uncovered the Defense Department funding anthrax laboratory activities in Ukraine. The records show over $11 million in funding for the Ukraine biolabs program in 2019.
In April 2022, Judicial Watch received records and communications from the Federal Select Agent Program (FSAP) that revealed safety lapsesand violations at U.S. biosafety laboratories that conduct research on dangerous agents and toxins.
In June 2022, Judicial Watch uncovered records from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) revealing over two dozen cases where research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid (r/sNA) molecules was conducted in America without proper approval and in violation of NIH guidelines.
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