Before anyone heard of Colombian narcotraficantes, a new class of international cocaine traffickers was born between 1947 and 1964, led by little-known Peruvians, Bolivians, Chileans, Cubans, Mexicans, Brazilians, and Argentines. These men—and often daring young women—anxiously pursued by U.S. drug agents, pioneered the business of illicit cocaine, a drug whose small-scale production in the Andes remained legal and above board until the late 1940s. Before 1945, cocaine barely existed as an illicit drug; by 1950, a handful of couriers were smuggling it by the ounce from Peru; by the mid-1960s this hemispheric flow topped hundreds of kilos yearly, linking thousands of coca farmers across the eastern Andes to crude labs, organized trafficking rings, and a bustling retailer diaspora in consuming hot-spots like New York and Miami. The Colombians of the 1970s, the Pablo Escobars who leveraged this network into one of hundreds of tons, worth untold billions, are today notorious. Yet historians have yet to uncover their modest predecessors or the actual start of Colombia's role: cocaine's “pre-Colombian” origins.