Strange Warehouse: Uncovers Insidious Biolab With Unknown Ties

Sketchy Biolab Found In California

There was an discovery of the illegal biolab in Reedley, California, is a striking example of vigilant local governance and investigative reporting. The lab was first brought to attention under unusual circumstances, leading to a significant investigation with far-reaching implications.

The lab’s discovery fueled speculation and theories about its origins. Local officials had limited communication with individuals associated with the lab, with some contacts traced back to a Chinese province. This has added to the mystery and concern surrounding the lab’s operations.

The House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, chaired by Mike Gallagher (R-WI), unveiled a report on its investigation into this biolab. The investigation began after local officials, including Reedley city officials Jesalyn Harper and Nicole Zieba, discovered the lab in 2022 and faced a lack of response from the CDC. This prompted the issuance of a subpoena and the launch of a bipartisan investigation.

The lab’s existence came to light when a code enforcement officer in Reedley observed something peculiar: a green garden hose inappropriately drilled into the back of a building’s wall. This unusual sighting prompted further scrutiny by local officials. Nicole Zieba, Reedley’s city manager, played a crucial role in this initial phase, recognizing the irregularity and acting upon it.

Investigation and Warrant Execution

Following the initial discovery, Reedley officials obtained a court-issued warrant, which allowed them to uncover more concerning elements within the lab. They found an array of blood and tissue samples, biological agents, and about 1,000 mice. This discovery indicated that the activities within the lab were extensive and possibly dangerous.

Laboratory Materials and Research

The lab, discovered inside an old Reedley warehouse, was found to contain a range of infectious diseases and hazardous chemicals, including COVID-19, malaria, HIV, hepatitis, and tuberculosis. These materials indicate that the lab was conducting significant biomedical research or production activities, possibly without the necessary oversight or compliance with safety regulations. Notably, there was also a freezer labeled “Ebola,” containing materials consistent with high-risk biological substances.

Handling of Pathogens

One of the most alarming findings was the handling of dangerous pathogens, including Ebola. Local officials and the Fresno County Public Health (FCPH) requested assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to test the unlabeled frozen samples. However, their request was denied, leading to frustrations and questions about the CDC’s responsiveness in such critical situations.

Biological Research and Risks

The facility housed nearly a thousand transgenic mice, engineered to mimic the human immune system and potentially carry the COVID-19 virus. The presence of such materials raised significant national security and public health concerns, as discussed by Ret. Colonel Robert P. Kaldec M.D., a biosecurity expert.

Who Is Jia Bei Jesse Zhu

Jia Bei Jesse Zhu, associated with the illegal biolab in Reedley, California, remains a figure of significant interest and concern. The lab’s discovery and the subsequent investigation have brought to light various aspects of Zhu’s activities and his connections to the lab.

Zhu, a Chinese citizen who had also lived in Canada, was accused of transporting infectious diseases and stealing American and Canadian intellectual property. His activities reportedly involved working with companies affiliated with the Chinese government. Zhu was operating under an alias and had a warrant for his arrest. This scenario underscores the risks associated with intellectual property theft and the potential involvement of foreign entities.

Background and Operations

Jia Bei Jesse Zhu is linked to two companies, Prestige Biotech and Universal Meditech Inc., which have been operational in the Central Valley for several years. These companies were found to possess unauthorized biological agents, samples of bodily fluid, infectious diseases, COVID and pregnancy tests, and nearly 1,000 mice at their Reedley facility, operating without the necessary permits or permissions.

History in the Central Valley

The history of these companies in the Central Valley dates back to at least 2015, with operations in Tulare and Fresno. In 2018, the companies operated out of a warehouse in Southwest Fresno, where they had live mice used for tests and the proper permits at the time. However, a fire in 2020 at the Southwest Fresno warehouse and subsequent inspections revealed compliance issues, including a lack of a hazardous materials business plan for the ethanol they were using.

Company Mission and Impact

Universal Meditech Inc., established in 2015, claimed to be an innovative solution provider in the In Vitro Diagnostic medical devices field. However, the illegal activities and lack of transparency have overshadowed these claims.

The lab, operated by Prestige Biotech and Universal Meditech, was involved in the purchase of counterfeit COVID and pregnancy tests. These products were falsely labeled as American-made and sold to U.S. customers, adding a layer of consumer fraud to the lab’s illegal activities.

Financial Transactions and Connections

The committee’s investigation found that Jia Bei Zhu, the individual at the center of the lab’s operations, received unexplained money transfers from Chinese banks, amounting to up to $2 million. While no direct connection was established between Zhu and the Chinese government, these financial transactions raise questions about the source of the funding and its purpose.

The investigation further revealed complex connections between the lab’s owner, Jia Bei Jesse Zhu, and the government of the People’s Republic of China. This individual was also a top official at a PRC-state-controlled company and had ties to military-civil fusion entities. This international angle added layers of complexity to the case, encompassing issues of national security and international law.

Lack of CDC Involvement

After the lab’s discovery, local officials sought assistance from the CDC, which refused to test any of the samples found. This case highlights critical issues regarding biosecurity, international relations, and public health, raising questions about the oversight of such facilities and the potential risks they pose.

Global Context and Timing

The report’s release coincided with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to California for a business summit. While the timing was stated as unplanned, it highlights the broader context of U.S.-China relations and the ongoing concerns about espionage, intellectual property theft, and biosecurity.

The financial and material findings from the Reedley biolab case shed light on the intricate and potentially dangerous interplay between international financial transactions, intellectual property theft, and biosecurity. It underscores the need for stringent oversight, effective coordination among federal agencies, and heightened awareness of the risks associated with unauthorized biomedical research facilities.

Reaction and Criticism of Federal Agencies

Local officials, including Reedley City Manager Nicole Zieba, criticized the slow response of federal agencies to the concerns raised about the lab. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Centers for Disease Control initially declined to step in or investigate, despite repeated calls from local authorities. This lack of timely intervention has been a source of concern and criticism.

Community Response and Transparency Concerns

The Reedley community expressed concerns over the city’s transparency regarding the lab. Local officials, including Reedley City Manager Nicole Zieba, have been questioned about the delay in notifying the public, citing federal authorities’ advice to wait until the full extent of the lab’s activities was understood.

Calls for Regulatory Changes

The discovery of the lab and the subsequent investigation have led to calls for changes in how federal agencies regulate private medical labs and handle infectious diseases. There is a clear need for clearer coordination among agencies to prevent similar situations in the future.

Legislative Response and Call for Action

The revelations from the 40-page report prompted calls for legislative action to safeguard communities against such labs. Both Congressman Jim Costa (D) Fresno and Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R) Bakersfield emphasized the need for stricter regulations and safeguards on pathogens and biolabs.

Committee Goals and Future Directions

The House Select Committee on China, chaired by Congressman Mike Gallagher, stated that their goal was to stimulate discussion about potential solutions to prevent similar incidents. They stressed the importance of CDC responsiveness and the need for effective communication channels between local officials and federal agencies.

This discovery and subsequent investigation highlight the critical importance of local vigilance, the complexities of biosecurity, and the challenges in regulating and monitoring such sensitive activities. It underscores the need for robust and responsive public health systems and highlights the risks associated with unauthorized biological research facilities.

Future Prevention Efforts

Local officials are now working to prevent similar labs from operating in the future. They are focusing on bringing awareness to state and federal loopholes that allowed these types of businesses to operate and are considering revising local hazard mitigation plans and fee structures for businesses.

The case of Jia Bei Jesse Zhu and the illegal Reedley lab highlights the complexities of biosecurity, the challenges in monitoring such sensitive operations, and the importance of local and federal oversight in ensuring public safety. The investigation into Zhu’s activities and connections continues to unravel the extent of the illegal operations and their implications.

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