Max Caruthers, a born-again Christian with a hard-living past, tracks his father, Norman Caruthers, who abandoned him decades before to the lawless wilds of present-day Guatemala. All Norman wants is to be left alone to drink away his remaining days undisturbed in the little bar that serves as home. Up north in California, Vicki Valle, former girlfriend of a recently assassinated Los Angeles gang leader, is deported over a triviality into Tijuana. She decides to bring the skills she learned in L.A.--both in the gang and in business classes attended at City College--back to her roots in El Salvador, where she meets Caruthers at a drop-off in the capital city. He's been roped into delivering a busload of Mayan girls, en route to lives of prostitution in the United States. Intrigued by the gringo trafficker and the potential of expanding her gang's territory into largely untapped Guatemala, Valle catches a ride with Caruthers back to his home base in Panajachel, just in time to crash his reunion with his earnest son, Max, who has come to the country on a religious mission, as well as his personal mission to find his father.
Max, his father, Vicki, and Max's new local girlfriend Karma, eventually become entangled in a gun-running operation that ends in a shootout between an anti-gang vigilante group and Vicki's crew of criminals. Vicki, the sole survivor of her gang's massacre, is now known as Itzel, a Kekchi Mayan displaced far from home in a dusty little town in extreme southwest Guatemala. Having arrived suddenly, this silent, solitary woman in traditional clothes is a mystery to the townspeople, but soon they will come to better understand her story.