The owner of an unauthorized lab in central California, originally from China, has been arrested for not obtaining the proper permits to manufacture tests for COVID-19, pregnancy, and HIV. The owner, Jia Bei Zhu, also known as Jesse Zhu, Qiang He, and David He, is charged with making false statements.
The charges against Zhu have nothing to do with conspiracy theories about China and biological weapons. They solely pertain to federal health regulations.
According to court documents, Zhu and his associates manufactured, imported, sold, and distributed hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 test kits, as well as tests for HIV, pregnancy, and other conditions between December 2020 and March 2023 in the U.S. and China.
The criminal case alleges that the two companies involved, Universal Meditech Inc. and Prestige Biotech Inc., did not obtain authorizations to manufacture and distribute the kits and mislabeled some of them. Zhu is also accused of making false statements to the FDA about his identity, ownership, control of the companies, and their activities.
The investigation began when medical test kits were discovered being manufactured in a warehouse in Reedley, a city in the agricultural Central Valley of California, in December 2022. The discovery led to rumors of biological weapons, but it was later confirmed that the kits were being produced for medical testing purposes and not for bioweapons.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that there was no evidence to suggest that the lab possessed illegal materials or bioweapons.
The owner, Jia Bei Zhu, changed his name, the names of his companies, and the locations as part of his scheme to avoid detection and scrutiny. However, the investigation ultimately exposed his actions.