The Chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic has threatened to subpoena the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) after they refused to produce information on an illegal Chinese lab that was "caught red-handed conducting dangerous research related to COVID-19 and other deadly diseases without a license by FBI agents and California officials."
In Thursday letters to the agencies (FBI letter, HHS letter), Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) noted their failure to respond to prior requests for information, and says that if they fail to comply with oversight, "we will be forced to evaluate the use of the compulsory process."
The letter also puts the agencies on notice that the Subcommittee may request that employees sit for voluntary transcribed interviews.
As we previously noted, the lab was found in what was thought to be a empty storage building in Reedley, California - located in the central San Joaquin Valley.
It was only discovered after a local code enforcement officer noticed a garden hose poking out a back wall of the building, according to YourCentralValley.
Public Health staff also observed blood, tissue and other bodily fluid samples and serums; and THOUSANDS of vials of unlabeled fluids and suspected biological material.
Additionally they found 900 genetically engineered mice, engineered to catch and carry COVID-19, living in “inhumane” conditions.
773 of the mice had to be euthanized, and officials found another 178 mice already dead.
“This is an unusual situation. I’ve been in government for 25 years. I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Reedley City Manager Nicole Zieba.
Even county health officials were left in shock.
“I’ve never seen this in my 26-year career with the County of Fresno,” said Assistant Director of the Fresno County Department of Public Health Joe Prado.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tested the substances and detected at least 20 potentially infectious agents, including coronavirus, HIV, hepatitis and herpes, according to a Health and Human Services letter dated June 6.
Agents also found thousands of package boxes - many with shipping labels from China. Below is a photo included in court documents in California.
NBC News reports that an investigation found the tenant was Prestige BioTech, a company registered in Nevada and unlicensed for business in California. City officials spoke with Xiuquin Yao, who was identified as the company president, through emails included in the court documents.
Yao told officials that Prestige BioTech moved assets belonging to a defunct company, Universal Meditech Inc., to the Reedley warehouse from Fresno after UMI went under. Prestige Biotech was a creditor to UMI and identified as its successor, according to court documents.
Officials were unable to get any California-based address for either company except for the previous Fresno location from which UMI had been evicted.
"The other addresses provided for identified authorized agents were either empty offices or addresses in China that could not be verified," court documents said.