Chinese National Charged for Running Illegal California Biolab
In a significant development, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has taken action against a Chinese national, Jia Bei Zhu, for his involvement in operating an illegal biolab in California. This case raises critical concerns about national security and public safety.
Jia Bei Zhu, 62 years old, has been charged with various offenses related to the operation of an unlicensed laboratory in Reedley, California, which was found to contain potentially infectious agents, including HIV and Malaria, and genetically engineered mice carrying COVID-19. This illegal biolab was operated by Prestige Biotech Inc. (PBI), the successor of Universal Meditech Inc. (UMI), which had gone defunct.
According to the DOJ, Zhu was arrested for “manufacturing and distributing misbranded medical devices in violation of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) and for making false statements to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).” During the investigation, Zhu provided misleading information to FDA officials, including false identities and claims of ignorance regarding the lab’s activities.
This case highlights a significant national security threat as it involves the unauthorized production and distribution of medical devices, including COVID-19 test kits. Between December 2020 and March 2023, Zhu and his associates used UMI and PBI to manufacture and distribute hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 in-vitro diagnostic (IVD) test kits and other medical test kits throughout the United States. They did so without obtaining the necessary authorizations and approvals, raising serious concerns about the safety and efficacy of these medical products.
The consequences of these actions are grave. If convicted, Zhu faces a maximum statutory penalty of three years in prison for the misbranding of medical devices charge and an additional five years in prison for the false statements charge.
Moreover, there are disturbing connections between UMI, PBI, and a pharmaceutical supplier in Qingdao, China. Executives of these companies shared the same names and addresses with individuals involved with this Chinese pharmaceutical supplier. This raises questions about potential international ties and the extent of their operations.
In conclusion, the DOJ’s charges against Jia Bei Zhu and the revelations about the illegal biolab in California are deeply concerning. This case serves as a stark reminder of the need for stringent oversight and regulations to ensure the safety of medical products and to safeguard national security against unauthorized and potentially dangerous operations. It is imperative that this case be thoroughly investigated to uncover the full extent of these activities and to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.