June 1930. Speak owner Louie Akers...about to go dry and out of business because Guzik couldn't supply him with hooch for that last three weeks...buys his booze from another supplier. Akers pays Johnny $1,142 for barrels of beer and crates of whiskey, that some deliverymen just dropped off. Just then, a couple of Guzik's boys (Sully and Mac) drive up; they start blasting at the delivery truck (which still has plenty more booze in back), just as it's pulling away. Once the delivery truck is at a safe distance, Johnny gets out and hands the dough over to the booze supplier...Eliot Ness! (Johnny is an undercover cop.)
A short time later, Akers gets a visit from Jake "Greasy Thumb" Guzik and a few of his boys; Guzik is the overlord of the Syndicate that supplies 90% of the booze to Chicago. Guzik has Mac take his tommy-gun and riddle the booze full of holes; Akers is lucky Guzik doesn't have Mac fill him with holes, too...Guzik only has Sully rough him up. When Akers says there are 118 other speak owners that need booze, Guzik says they all should come to his meet tomorrow night.
Next morning, an upset District Attorney Beecher Asbury has a meeting with Ness. It seems Ness must have supplied 100 speak owners with $1,100 worth of booze, because he turns in $111,000 he collected. Beecher tell Ness firmly that he can't sell booze to hoods! In the last 3 years, Ness and his Untouchables had smashed about $5-million worth of Guzik's distilleries; so now Guzik has given up brewing his own stuff, and is getting it from thousands of small, independent suppliers. This is Ness' scheme to put the pressure on Guzik: by providing "competition," Guzik will have to take the risk of importing a huge supply of liquor. Guzik will be gambling a fortune; Ness is taking a gamble, too...Beecher tells him, in no uncertain terms, "I will not condone you subverting the law to uphold it."
A half dozen of the top speak owners meet with Guzik, who promises to deliver all the booze they need in 2 weeks...and they better wait, or else! Since Ness is watching Guzik like a hawk, Guzik decides to get George "Bugs" Moran to import the booze for him. Later, Ness drags Akers to his office for questioning; Ness filmed him buying the booze. Ness learns from Akers that his plan is working: Guzik intends to import liquor. And so Guzik meets with Moran, even though Moran holds him personally responsible for the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
Guzik will have his boy Sully truck 500,000 gallons of Canadian whiskey across the border into the U.S.; Moran will take it from there. Moran demands $500,000. Next day, Moran's boy Striber goes an office at the Litto theatre to pick up the first payment. Guzik tries to buy Striber with money, to keep tabs on Moran. But Striber doesn't want money; all he wants is the name of the guy who killed his kid brother in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. So Guzik gives him a name: Sully.
Moran will move the whiskey by train; 500,000 gallons in 68 boxcars. Moran forces Albert Lane, owner of a railroad siding, to cooperate by threatening his family. On June 18, at the Lake Huron Packing Co. in Track City, Michigan, 2 trains...each with 68 boxcars, and identical serial numbers...are loaded. One train has apples, and will be shunted at a siding halfway to Chicago; the other train has $6-million worth of whiskey. When Moran doesn't need Lane anymore, he shoots him. Striber, all this time, had put off shooting Sully...but now, surprisingly, Moran gives him the order to kill Sully. Striber obliges--he pumps 6 slugs into Sully.
The bodies of Lake and Sully lead Ness and his men to Track City. Some booze that was stolen by the janitor leads Ness to a train route; but when Ness and his men inspect a train in Hillsgrove, all they find is apples. Ness drives to Chicago; the apple train is shunted, and the whiskey train is rolling again. When Ness gets to the Chicago Freight Yards, he gets a surprise: finding one particular train is like finding a needle in a haystack. 1,200 trains enter and leave Chicago daily; there are 80,000 loaded freight cars there right now.
Rico and Lee Hobson sneak into Guzik's office and tap a microphone into the phone; they overhear the name Striber, so they know Moran is implicated. Striber had phoned Guzik to tell him Moran wants another $500,000. Later, Hobson tails Striber to the freight yards; Hobson phones Ness. Guzik and Moran and all their boys are there; Ness and his men show up. While Lee Hobson, Rico, Youngfellow and Rossman arrest Guzik, Moran and half a dozen hoods, Ness chases Striber. Ness and Striber shoot it out; Striber dies in front of a boxcar...ironically, one of the stray bullets penetrated the boxcar, making it leak whiskey.