When Ricky Diaz discovers that his mother, whose death he'd thought was accidental, was actually murdered by drug dealers, he's desperate for revenge. But his father, an ex-Drug Enforcement agent, refuses the mission the DEA now offers: to steal back an American-made radar detector installed in a plane the cartel uses to smuggle drugs from Mexico.
So Ricky decides to take matters into his own hands. He runs away to Mexico, disguising himself as one of the rateros, or street children. Life on the streets is hard, though, and he's barely surviving when he meets Soledad, a wily but kindhearted ratera. With her help, he must now find a way to get into the drug cartel's compound and take the plane, or end up as yet another casualty in the raging drug war.