A California chef who got busted nearly three years ago on charges of selling illegal whale meat is facing a much more serious sentence than originally thought. Kiyoshiro Yamamoto could get 67 years in prison if convicted of smuggling and selling meat from endangered Sei whales at the now-defunct Hump restaurant in Santa Monica, reports LA Weekly. A fellow chef faces a 10-year sentence after yesterday's indictment by a federal grand jury, and the restaurant's parent company, Typhoon Restaurant, faces a $1.2 million fine.
The arrests followed a sting operation run by one of the producers of the anti-whaling documentary The Cove. The chefs allegedly ordered the whale meat from a Japanese national, who smuggled it into the US by labeling it as fatty tuna. Authorities say the ruse worked for three years, from 2007 to 2010, reports the Los Angeles Times.