An investigation at a Reedley, California warehouse uncovered a large-scale illegal medical lab with bioengineered mice and infectious agents, KTLA sister station KSEE/KGPE reports.
The disturbing discovery was made in April and was prompted by a simple garden hose that was illegally attached to the back of the building, officials said.
The city obtained several search warrants to enter the building.
Officials said they found over 800 different chemicals – many of which couldn’t be immediately identified.
“There was a special room that was built housing about 1000 white lab mice,” said Reedley City Manager Nicole Zieba explained.
200 of the mice were already dead.
Also found were thousands of vials, many of which contained biohazardous materials including human blood and other unknown substances.
“[The suspects said] they were doing some testing on laboratory mice that would help them support, developing the COVID test kits that they had on-site,” said Joe Prado, Assistant Director of the Fresno County Health Department.
According to court documents, the Centers for Disease Control tested what they could and determined that at least 20 potentially infectious viral, bacterial, and parasitic agents were present including E. Coli, malaria, and even COVID.
“I think because of that swift action that was taken we had been able to maintain public safety this entire time,” Prado explained.
Over the course of several weeks, officials with local, state, and federal agencies worked to remove the materials from the location
Prado said the owners operated under the name Prestige Biotech and the company president was not forthcoming with information.
A criminal investigation is also ongoing.