A Boston man who tearfully told a federal judge that he wanted "to get my own life in order and forget about the rest of the world" yesterday was sentenced to 30 months in prison for his role in what federal prosecutors have said was a major drug ring.

Kenneth Lawrence Bates, 28, who had pleaded guilty to a charge of interstate commerce in aid of racketeering, was the first of 12 men charged in the ring to be sentenced. Bates could have been sentenced up to five years in prison and fined $10,000.

Bates told U.S. District Court Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr. in Alexandria yesterday that he had become involved in the drug trade because it "was a means to an end . . . I realized I could make a lot of money in it."

Bates said he entered college at the height of the Vietnam war "and I saw a lot of injustices. I wanted to be in the position so I could change some of these things."

Five of the 12 men charged in connection with an international ring that allegedly grossed more than $50 million in a six-year period were convicted last month on various drug charges. Three others excluding Bates have pleaded guilty, one man had charges dismissed and two others are still reported at large.

Their indictments grew out of a drug arrest last December at Dulles International Airport in which federal officers seized about 800 pounds of hashish in a shipment of 67 crates of Indian door knockers.