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Joaquin Murieta and his wife, Rosita, emigrate from Mexico to seek their fortune in the California Gold Rush of 1849. They encounter fierce anti-Mexican bigotry on the part of local miners but gain a friend in Captain Love, the territorial marshal. Several toughs attack Murieta when he makes a strike and rape and murder his wife. Convinced that the killers will not be brought to justice, Murieta becomes a professional gambler until he finds the guilty men and murders them. Captain Love arrests Murieta, and he is sent to prison, where he meets Three Fingers, leader of a band of Mexican outlaws, and his sidekick Claudio. Kate, a restaurant owner who has befriended Murieta, smuggles a gun into his cell, and the three men escape to join the outlaw gang. Murieta takes over the leadership of the gang and trains the outlaws as a disciplined army to chastize the "gringos." Seriously wounded in a gunfight, Murieta visits Rosita's grave. He is followed by Captain Love, who allows him to remain free in return for a promise that he will end his raids. While Murieta lies unconscious from his wounds, Three Fingers assumes his identity and continues to plunder the countryside. Murieta recovers and leads his gang to surrender, but along the way they are ambushed by Captain Love, and Murieta is killed.