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In 1777, a band of murderous pirates, led by Dargo, lose their ship in a typhoon off the coast of Central America and are in need of gold with which to buy a new vessel. Dargo leads his men to a remote area where, a dozen years earlier, he had buried a treasure chest. However, they discover that a church has been erected over the burial site. Meanwhile, in front of the church, peasant Manuel Lazara is being whipped by a soldier on the orders of rich landowner Pedro Vallejo, whose daughter Carlotta is in love with Manuel. Vallejo warns Manuel that if he attempts to see Carlotta again he will be killed. When Carlotta goes to comfort Manuel, he vows to leave before he is forced to kill her father. Later, at an inn, Manuel becomes involved in a fight with Dargo in defense of barmaid Juaníta, who is in love with him. When pirates Garza and Little Dog become impatient and want to kill all the villagers, Dargo informs them that there is a garrison of fifty soldiers nearby. At night, Dargo and his men enter the unoccupied church and begin to rip up the floor, but are interrupted by a worshipper, whose screams summon several soldiers, and the pirates flee. Early the next morning, the starving pirates kill a peasant transporting food and wine belonging to a rich hacienda owner. Dargo then decides to trick the soldiers into leaving the village by creating a false fire at the hacienda. Meanwhile, Manuel has rescued Juaníta from a stoning by the local women and decides to stay and marry her with Father Felipe's blessing. Having lured the soldiers from the village, Dargo and his men return, disable the warning bell in the church tower and order the villagers to excavate the chest. When Manuel tries to aid Carlotta, Juaníta leaves him and takes up with Dargo, who decrees that Carlotta will become her servant. As the digging begins, Father Felipe tells Manuel that he has the chest and used the treasure for the good of the people. When the priest suggests causing delays in the digging until the soldiers return, Manuel advocates attacking the pirates and begins to round up the villagers. However, the pirates capture Manuel, and Dargo informs the villagers that if they will give up the chest, he and his men will leave. No one volunteers and Garza lines up the men and begins to kill them. One villager says that Manuel knows where the chest is and Manuel is taken off to be flogged until he speaks. However, Juaníta tells Dargo that Manuel will not talk unless he sees Carlotta being whipped. As the whipping begins, Father Felipe emerges from the church with the chest. When Dargo opens it and discovers it is empty, he kills the priest and orders the village burned. Manuel tells the villagers that Father Felipe used the treasure to save them from famine and sickness. Horrified by the death of the priest, a reformed Juaníta runs into the church and manages to cause the bell to toll, but falls to her death. The bell rallies the villagers as the soldiers return, and the pirates are pursued to the beach, where Dargo is killed.