Scientist attempts to smuggle 22 vials of Ebola into US

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Winnipeg researcher charged with smuggling Ebola material into U.S.

A former researcher at the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg is facing charges in the United States after allegedly trying to smuggle genetic material from the Ebola virus across the Manitoba-North Dakota border.

U.S. authorities allege Konan Michel Yao had 22 vials of the substance in the trunk of his car when he tried to cross the border on May 5. He is charged with smuggling merchandise, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 US.

U.S. customs officers allegedly found the vials wrapped in aluminum foil inside a glove and packaged in a plastic bag, along with electrical wires.

In his affidavit, the 42-year-old researcher said he was hired by the Public Health Agency of Canada to work as a PhD fellow at the Winnipeg facility. Yao told officers he was working on a vaccine for the Ebola virus and HIV.

On Jan. 21, his last day at the lab, he said he stole 22 vials, which he described as research vectors, according to the affidavit.

Yao told officers he was taking the vials to his new job with the National Institutes of Health at the Biodefense Research Laboratory in Bethesda, Md., because he didn’t want to start from scratch in his research.

Dr. Frank Plummer, the scientific director of the Winnipeg lab, said the genetic material taken was not the full Ebola virus and does not pose a risk to the public.

Plummer said theft has never happened at the lab before. Researchers are reminded they cannot take any lab property without permission, and they sign documents asserting that they know the rules, he said.

The lab is now reviewing its biosecurity protocol.

No public health risk, Canadian health agency says
Lynn Jordheim, the U.S. attorney prosecuting the case, said Yao was not carrying the active viruses. Still, Jordheim said, the allegations against Yao are serious.

“You take it seriously when something like this happens, but this is not the scenario you fear where somebody would be bringing a biological agent across,” Jordheim said.

A spokesman with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Minnesota office told CBC News on Wednesday that the agency was initially called in to investigate and monitor a terrorist threat, but the threat was assessed and ruled out.

The FBI said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be handling the investigation.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said there was never a public health risk, and insisted Yao did not have access to the highest-level pathogens and only worked with non-infectious material.

A spokesperson for the agency confirmed that the accused was a researcher who hadn’t worked at the National Microbiology Lab since January.

Yao was born in the Ivory Coast. He studied at Laval University in Quebec and was briefly affiliated with the plant sciences department at the University of Manitoba.

A former supervisor described him as “a normal researcher.


Anne says:

This isnt surprising

Dupper bob says:

Ha ha!. Failure to infect anyone. bro, You should have drank them like junkies do to smuggle drugs.

rosiethebear300 says:

Ha ha… can anyone spell agenda 21?

ThatGuyYouArent2 says:

Nobody yet. This guy only tried to bring in genetic material – not the virus itself.

neocoders says:

Change the title to this upload – genetic material, not virus, big difference

LuckyMarketGameplay says:

Did anyone even watch the whole video? There was not enough to cause any harm, only to make a vaccine..

Michael Neely says:

transporting a bio level 4 hot agent into the us with out proper containment well he put the puplic at risk there is a reason they where those suits and lock down that virus in a negitive air biolevel 4 containment

Michael Neely says:

put me down for swin flew at least i wont have to worrie about craping and vomiting my guts out my splean wont harden and swell to the size of a basball and i like my blood running though my body not out of it yeah swine flue i will eat it

BeggarSyu says:

LOL all this for an ebola virus gene because he didn't want to start his research over? Completely understandable and also completely harmless. 20 years in prison!?!?!? are you joking me? Canada isn't even this harsh on murderers and rapist. Hell we even let a cop who drove drunk and kill a woman off with no jail time. a complete and utter joke.

jayone451 says:

@100inkersell he was stealing it to make a vaccine for the poor that would actually work, he was jailed because he was actually trying to help the public!!

KeRoSeNe_ says:

bullshit dumb media scare tactic, there noting important about the story other than the fact that the media and government exploit fear.

Collin Thomas says:


usmchutch says:

They made something out of nothing in order to scare Canadian citizens in wanting more government protection.

The War on Disinformation says:

"I forgot Im retarded".. LOL

Fleck says:

hey, i like how you pretend to know facts that you do not. good job.

PhalanX4012 says:

*sigh* I'm getting tired of this. It's like trying to explain the concept of class to Paris Hilton. The security around dangerous substances is clearly going to be much tighter, as evidenced by the fact that they need a higher level of clearance. Thinking about your comments before you post might be useful.

Fleck says:

lol no shit, but what you don't understand is the concern that someone with higher clearance potentially could.

PhalanX4012 says:

hmmm…lets try this again, go back, watch very closely 'yao didn't have high level security clearance to get him access to the actual virus, so the contents of the vials aren't dangerous and pose no risk to public safety, they can only be used to make a vaccine'. Let me try and spell this out using smaller words so you understand. HE COULDN'T STEAL THE SCARY STUFF.

Fleck says:

no, both you and phalanx fail because you think that this isn't a big deal just because he didn't take an actual virus THIS TIME. you're both massive dolts.

Sorcoral says:

phalanx4012 wins this round

way to fear monger Canadians like American news CBC, didn't really need to make us think he had strains of the acual virus oot and aboot

PhalanX4012 says:

go back, watch it again, listen this time, use your brain a little bit, try to come to your own conclusion instead of accepting being spoonfed your news and I'll be waiting for you to post your apology. Something along the lines of 'oh yeah I'm sorry, I forgot I'm retarded', would be fine.

Fleck says:

you're the one that's not fucking getting it at all even though i explained it in the most basic way possible, so yeah, u have fun with that.

PhalanX4012 says:

good come back based on intelligent observation and insightful commentary…oh no wait, you're still an idiot nevermind.

Fleck says:

Holy christ on a cracker, your idiocy is staggering. Have fun being retarded.

PhalanX4012 says:

Impressive that we can watch the same clip, but you're so quick to buy into the fear that you don't even hear what they're actually saying. PAY ATTENTION moron! He didn't have clearance to access the actual virus. Or were you so busy crying onto your keyboard you missed that part? OH GOD NO HE'S GONNA VACCINATE EVERYONE RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!! Idiot

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