In the Gypsy quarter of Chicago, drunkenness is taking its toll in fights and killings. The local community elders, known as the Senate, want to bring it to an end but come into conflict with Janos Colescou, owner of much of the illicit liquor distribution in the area. He kills the head of the Senate, Victor Bartok and when the opposition continues, kills his brother Fedor. Throughout, Colescou has revived an old custom of posting his victims name on an old tree in the neighborhood. For Ness and his men, the goal is to try to bring Colescou out into the open and for that they get help from Victor Bartok's daughter Magda. She tells him that Colescou has personal reasons for wanting to get rid of the Bartoks.