Authorities discovered that a modest warehouse near Fresno housed a large-scale illegal medical laboratory, filled with bioengineered mice, infectious agents and a host of hazardous materials.
The investigation began in March when a curious code enforcement officer spotted a simple garden hose illegally attached to the back of the building in Reedley City, according to KRON4. The warehouse he thought was a warehouse turned out to be an illegal laboratory. It is reportedly owned by a company operating under the name “Prestige Biotech.”
At the time, county public health officials also reportedly found medical equipment believed to have been developed at the site, allegedly for use as Covid and pregnancy tests, as NBC reported.
The Fresno County Public Health Department has “evaluated and assessed the activities of an unlicensed laboratory,” the health department’s assistant director, Joe Prado, said in a statement Thursday, per NBC.
City Manager Nicole Zieba expressed her shock, stating, “This is an unusual situation. I’ve been in government for 25 years. I’ve never seen anything like this,” according to KRON4.
The facility reportedly had over 800 different chemicals on site, including unknown substances categorized as “unknown chemicals.” Among the discoveries were thousands of vials, some containing biohazardous materials such as human blood, and nearly 1,000 laboratory mice, 200 of which were already dead.
Shockingly, when tested by the Centers for Disease Control, at least 20 potentially infectious viral, bacterial and parasitic agents were detected, including E. Coli, malaria and COVID, as KRON4 reported, as well as HIV, hepatitis and herpes, according to NBC.
The city, along with state and federal agencies, reportedly worked to remove the hazardous materials from the site, but the nature and purpose of the operation remains unknown and a criminal investigation is ongoing.
The company said to be running the operation, Prestige BioTech, is now allegedly accused of failing to comply with orders, including providing a plan to biodegrade and dispose of the materials.
So far, authorities have assured the public that there is no immediate cause for concern, but residents and officials remain uneasy.
Image via Google Street View.