The decade's most triggering comedy
A warehouse operated illegally in central California stored pathogens, including HIV, chlamydia, E. Coli, streptococcus pneumonia, hepatitis B and C, herpes, rubella, and malaria, and contained roughly 1,000 dead or nearly dead mice, according to investigators.
According to Joe Prado, assistant director of the Fresno County Department of Public Health (FCDPH), the owners of the warehouse, which was located in Reedley, operated under the name Prestige Biotech. City officials reportedly identified that company’s president as Xiuquin Yao, an alleged Chinese national. The Daily Mail described the warehouse as a “Chinese-run virus laboratory.”
It had previously been run by a now-defunct company, Universal Meditech Inc. Court documents declare that Prestige Biotech, Inc. moved equipment into the warehouse and established a lab.
During the investigation, the Prestige representative onsite, Wang Zhaolin, said, “These mice were genetically engineered to catch and carry the COVID-19 virus.”
“I’ve never seen this in my 26-year career with the County of Fresno,” Prado stated. “So there was over 800 different chemicals on site in different bottles of different acids. Unfortunately, a lot of these are being categorized under unknown chemicals.”
“This is an unusual situation. I’ve been in government for 25 years. I’ve never seen anything like this,” Reedley City Manager Nicole Zieba added.
“There were some statements by individuals who were going into the facility and dump [waste] into their waste bin,” Prado said. “After that, it would go to the landfill.”
Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found at least 20 potentially infectious viral, bacterial, and parasitic agents. Thousands of vials contained “unlabeled fluids,” according to court documents.
Prado conducted an email exchange with David He, who identified himself as a representative of Prestige. Prado asked repeatedly for He to show documentation about licensed medical waste disposal for the materials and why Prestige was storing infectious agents.
“They completely avoided the questions,” Prado reportedly said. “This individual was either unaware or was intentionally trying to mislead us.”
He reportedly denied that Prestige was storing infectious agents, instead asking for a list of the agents. Prado complied repeatedly. He wanted Prado to contact Dimensions, which He said had a license as a medical waste hauler. Prado wanted evidence Dimensions was licensed, but He allegedly never provided any.
On June 13, 2023, Prado wrote to He:
Regarding 2A, no viable California address has been provided, which violates California Corporations Code Section 1700. Per that section, a California address must be provided that is a street address and has someone available at that address. First you responded with the addresses of empty offices, and when we asked for clarification you provided addresses in China that do not appear to correlate with any maps of the area. The Department is trying to work with you but it is increasingly difficult when it appears that you are not wanting to provide real information.
“I’ve been with the department for 30 years, and I don’t recall a similar situation,” Fresno health official David Luchini said.