A DEA agent provides former Marine Tim Kearney with a way out of his prison sentence: impersonate Bobby Z, a recently deceased drug dealer, in a hostage switch with a crime lord. When the negotiations go awry, Kearney flees, with Z’s son in tow.
Tim Kearney is a loser. He's already in prison for the fourth time because of a criminal offence. There he's offered a deal with the DEA, which would involve his impersonating a legendary drug dealer, Bobby Z. Tim is told that the real Bobby Z has recently died of a heart attack in an embassy in Thailand, shortly after getting out of prison there. The plan that had been in operation at the time of Bobby's death was for him to be exchanged for a DEA agent that was being held by a Mexican drug cartel. The Feds explain to Tim that if he agrees to go along with this "transfer," he will be free to escape south of the border once the DEA agent is safely back on the American side.