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An international drug smuggling operation centred in the Fraser Valley had nothing to do with the Hells Angels or any other B.C. gang, one of the convicted smugglers says.

An international drug smuggling operation centred in the Fraser Valley had nothing to do with the Hells Angels or any other B.C. gang, one of the convicted smugglers says.

Jody York said the scheme to move thousands of kilos of marijuana across the U.S. border was hatched by a few friends who grew up together in the Abbotsford area.

York and several other B.C. men are to be sentenced in a Seattle courtroom March 25 after working out a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney, who wants York behind bars for six years.

Washington state law enforcement agencies have said that York’s group, headed by convicted trafficker Rob Shannon, was working on behalf of the B.C. Hells Angels, a claim York denies.

“We were never a gang or thought of ourselves as a gang. We were anti-gang. We hated most clubs and groups out there and never wanted to be a part of their drama or inner crap,” York said in a letter to U.S. District Court Chief Judge Robert Lasnik.

“As for working for the Hells Angels, nothing could be further from the truth. When I was involved, we wanted to stay as far away from them, due to a fight I had with a member in a night club. I just knew how they worked things. As for them or any one else being involved with other people in this case, after I left, it is not, nor do I want to make it my business.”

Both York, and Shannon, who was sentenced to 20 years in a U.S. jail in 2009, were featured in a rap video made by Vancouver full-patch Hells Angel Hal Porteous.

And York was described by police in B.C. as linked to the Independent Soldiers gang. He was arrested in Kelowna three years ago with IS member Joe Krantz, who was later gunned down in Abbotsford.

York also denies allegations made by co-accused Devron Quast that he paid for someone to shoot Anton Hooites-Meursing, who at the time was another member of their drug gang.

“Devron saying I took money from people to have someone killed is ridiculous,” York wrote. “I had a problem with someone here who was trying to take money from me. The decision as a group was we would pay him to leave me alone. It is embarrassing but true. Mr. Quast is very wrong. That has become public knowledge and that person is now in prison for the rest of his life for three or four murders up here. He wasn’t the kind of man you said no to. It was better to just pay him and move forward which we did.”

Hooites-Meursing earlier told The Sun he was targeted in a shooting in the underground parking lot of his Vancouver condo. He pleaded guilty last year to two murders and is now serving a life sentence.

York does tell Lasnik that he is sorry for his part in the drug ring. He said he only got involved because Shannon, a good friend of his, “had someone approach him on smuggling pot across the border.”

“I knew every second what we were doing was wrong and illegal and did profit from it in every aspect,” York said. “I would like to apologize to the United States of America for any sadness, pain or hardship that any of my actions may have impacted on anyone.”

York also refuted other claims of Quast, who cooperated with U.S. authorities after his 2008 arrest, and provided information about Shannon, York and others.

York told Lasnik he has changed his life around since leaving the drug gang in 2006. He said he is now a devoted husband with two children who built a house on 10 acres 400 kilometre away from Abbotsford.

“I have made huge steps to move on. I am destroyed that this has come down, but am willing to do my part to make this go away,” York said. “I can only ask for you to judge me on the man I am today and not the man I was five years ago.”

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