College student Jason Collins is video-chatting with his childhood best friend Craig Johnson. Craig discusses a box of drugs that he is attempting to move and attempts to persuade Jason to let Craig ship the drugs to his house, offering him a share of the profit. Despite Jason's reluctance, Craig texts him the tracking number for the package. A courier delivers Craig's package to the Collins's house. Jason signs for the package and brings it to his room, discovering that it contains a large amount of pills in a bag, as well as a tracking device. DEA officers arrive and break into the house; Jason flees but is chased down by Agent Cooper.
While at a barbecue, John Matthews, Jason's estranged father and owner of a construction company, is called by his ex-wife Sylvie about Jason being arrested. John and Sylvie meet and have a tense discussion while waiting to speak to Jason. An investigator speaks with them, saying that Craig set Jason up in a sting operation to reduce his own sentence after being caught. Jason's charges carry a minimum of 10 years in prison and Jason is denied bail. He is put in an interview room with John, Sylvie, and the investigator, who pressures Jason to inform on one of his own friends for trafficking in order to reduce his own sentence, as Craig had done.
Using his connections, John arranges to meet with local US Attorney Joanne Keeghan, who is running a very aggressive anti-drug campaign. Keeghan agrees to reduce Jason's sentence if John will inform on a drug dealer, but states that he'll receive little help from her and that the risk will be all his. John visits Jason in prison, observing from facial wounds that Jason has been abused by other prisoners.
Agent Cooper leads a task force which will monitor any dealings John arranges to use as evidence for an arrest. John searches through his employee records and finds that Daniel James, a new employee, has two prior distribution convictions. Daniel is currently leading a clean life to avoid a third strike. John offers twenty thousand dollars if Daniel will simply introduce him to a dealer; Daniel agrees, though he is unaware that John is acting as an informant. Daniel introduces John to Malik, an extremely dangerous, high-ranking local drug dealer, who also has two strikes. Explaining that his construction business cannot stay afloat in the current economy without a supplement to its revenues, John offers to run nearly limitless amounts of drugs at almost zero risk in his freight trucks. Malik agrees under the condition that John and Daniel drive the initial run themselves.
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