Deguello - Prelude and Part One
Sheriff Antonio Garcia is awakened at 5:30 AM by a call from Deputy Serrano alerting him to situation developing in Esperanza's park. He is joined by Deputy Regla on his way to the scene and sees that a body has been found by the tiny town's memorial statue. The bloody, battered corpse is that of Mayor Miguel Navarro, his throat slit in a mute warning to his town's citizenry. Serrano asks restauranteur Jorge Salas to get a tablecloth to cover Navarro's remains while Regla shoos some local kids away. Several other locals gather to view the grisly scene, contemplating the fate of Esperanza.
Realizing that the situation is only going to get worse, Sheriff Garcia decides that he can no longer rely on the corrupt government to protect himself, his family, or his town from the revenge of Ramon Castillo. He tells his deputies about the money he found in the room of Ramon's crazy brother, Luz (aka "El Caiman"), and explains a plan to use the funds to hire gunmen and mercenaries to help defend their homes.
After agreeing that he and his deputies should stay in town, Garcia looks for volunteers to search for hired guns in more populous areas. The brothers Juan and Emilio Valdez offer to go to Ciudad Juarez and see if they can find the soldiers-of-fortune that will suit the towns' needs. The young Sheriff gives them enough cash for a retainer and then buries the rest by himself to keep it relatively safe.
Part One - The Gunmen
Juan and Emilio take their battered old pickup up Highway 24 to the nearby brothel, site of El Caiman's death. Looking for prospective hires in the roughnecks who frequent the bordello, they are approached by the talkative and eccentric Norteamericano Danny Cooper. Cooper is from across the border, but he has come to look on the house of ill repute at his personal "paradise", and rumors of its destruction have given him a desire to make a stand for once in his life. Quickly realizing that the offbeat handyman doesn't quite fit the profile they're looking for, they turn down his offer to join them and continue on their way to Juarez. Unbenknownst to them, the persistent Cooper follows in his converted VW/Winebago mobile home.
While in Juarez, the Valdez siblings frequent several local bars and watering holes in search of tough hombres willing to stand up to the Castillo Cartel. They find none for several days, their lack of street smarts and the lethality of their prospective work doing little to help their cause. After speaking to some unhelpful members of a biker gang, they leave a bar one night to witness an American in a sweaty, dusty business suit coming to the aid of a woman assaulted by two street punks. The man soundly trounces both men, wielding a set of brass knuckles and then threatening the men with a gun when one of the two draws a switchblade.
Realizing that the man seems to fit the bill, Juan and his younger brother approach him and try to bring up the work they can offer. The man (who initially calls himself "Sam") listens but at first doesn't seem interested, clearly having other things weighing on his mind. Before they can finish their exchange, however, the Valdezes watch as the man guns shoots one of the two alley assailants when the punk returns with a gun retrieved from his nearby house. The would-be ambusher dies and the Juarez policia are alerted to shots fired.
Now offering a speedy getaway from the scene, the Valdez brothers drive "Sam" back to the dirty roadside Motel they have taken up as their lodgings during their search for gunfighters. In the privacy of their room, they explain the plight of Esperanza following the shooting death of Ramon's brother Luz. The mention of the Castillos gets the stranger's attention, and he somewhat pre-emptively agrees to do the job. He then says his real name is Sawyer Bishop, and he offers to help the two siblings find more triggermen. The trio begin searching the region for other likely candidates.
Some time later, Danny Cooper shows up to try and once more offer his dubious services to Juan and Emilio, having figured out which motel and room they were staying in. He is greeted by Bishop and his gun in a tense confrontation, but after a short chat the American enforcer realizes Cooper is not a threat. When Juan and Emilio return from dinner and find the handyman speaking with their first hire, they are equally surprised. Deciding that its best not to turn away help given their mutual situation - and knowing Cooper knows their plans too well already - they finally agree to hire the odd-jobber as well.
A day later, Bishop tracks down an old confederate of his named Tess, an American getaway driver who owes a large debt to the Sianola drug cartel. Tess is involved with some inept bank robbers cornered by the Mexican police when Bishop locates her, waiting in her idling custom Trans Am while the policia and robbers shout threats at one another. Bishop explains the job and suggests that she could be forgiven some of what she owes in exchange for helping to do some damage to Castillo's operation. When she agrees to join up, Bishop fires some shots off down the alley to set off a gunbattle between her former employers and the cops outside. The pair drives off to return to the cheap motel where the slowly forming team has gathered.
On the following night, Tess goes to visit a roadhouse across the border in search of one of her own associates, a veteran mercenary named Ignacio. She finds the elderly Chilean seated at the bar, separate from the rowdy American crowd as a country and western band wails on stage. Ignacio greets her and the two catch up on old times before Tess explains why she's come. She mentions that Bishop is involved, as the three have some shared history, and the old man eventually agrees to join the defense of Esperanza.
With Bishop, Cooper, Tess, and Ignacio on board for the stand against the Castillos, the Valdez brothers have almost finished getting the team they need together. Time is short, however, and they know that their enemy will soon be moving on their home.