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At the time of the California Gold Rush, an outlaw, Joaquin Murieta, becomes the hero of the Spanish-speaking inhabitants who are being dispossessed by the treasure-seeking hordes pouring into the West. When the brother of his sweetheart, Clarita, is wounded in a knife fight, Murieta gives his elderly captive, bounty hunter Tampico, his freedom in return for nursing the injured youth back to health. Later, after Murieta has held up a gold train guarded by the head of the California Rangers, Maj. Tim Bancroft, Bancroft forces Tampico to lead him to the outlaw camp. Murieta is absent, but several of his men, including Clarita's brother, are brutally slaughtered by the rangers. Upon hearing the news, Murieta goes berserk in a saloon and is arrested. But the deputies, unaware of the importance of their catch, release him. Murieta then rejoins his men and, after a skirmish with the rangers, subdues Bancroft, ties him to his horse, and sends him back to town. Once more at the head of his band, Murieta, with Clarita at his side, rides for Sonora.