After relocating with his family to California, Gary Webb is a seasoned and respected reporter at the San Jose Mercury News. His career takes a startling turn when an upscale cocaine trafficker's girlfriend, Coral Baca, slips him a Grand Jury transcript which reveals a link between U.S. intelligence and Central American cocaine smuggling. Webb begins shadowing Alan Fenster, the defense lawyer for Los Angeles crack kingpin "Freeway" Ricky Ross. The journalist soon realizes that he has stumbled onto a story which leads to the shady origins of cheap, seemingly limitless cocaine on the nation's streets, all too apparent in South Central Los Angeles and which further alleges that Nicaraguan rebels working directly with the CIA were smuggling cocaine into the U.S., using the profits to arm Contra militias back home. Webb makes a risky run into Nicaragua to get crucial information from imprisoned drug baron Norwin Meneses. With the backing of his paper's editor Anna Simons, Webb's reportage runs in print and online as a series of articles entitled "Dark Alliance," and executive editor Jerry Ceppos welcomes the nationwide attention that the stories generate. But Webb himself becomes the story and a target, as jealous rival reporters who missed the CIA-Contra-cocaine story move to discredit his work and reputation in an increasingly vicious smear campaign. His wife Sue tries to stand by him even as, despite warnings from drug kingpins and menacing surveillance intended to deter his investigation, Webb keeps digging to prove a direct link between cocaine smugglers and the CIA, a conspiracy with explosive implications. Based upon the books "Dark Alliance," by Gary Webb, and "Kill the Messenger," by Nick Schou.