President Mauricio Macri unveiled a federal plan Tuesday to fight drug trafficking in Argentina, targeting a problem that generates violence and corrupts citizens and institutions.
"Drug trafficking is no longer a problem of a region or a city, it has spread throughout the country and is affecting our roots," Macri said during the presentation of the "Argentina without Drug Trafficking" agreement in Buenos Aires.
The document, which was coordinated with NGOs and judicial, legislative and academic institutions, includes 20 commitments to end drug trafficking nationwide.
The elimination of "paco," the remnants of cocaine base paste, is a priority since the substance is considered one of "the most damaging" to vulnerable populations, the agreement said.
Other commitments include protecting those who provide information about drug traffickers, providing more resources to the justice system and police, and implementing financial and toxicological controls, among others.
"Drugs corrupt people and institutions, and that demeans us, separates us, paralyzes us," the president said.
"If we become paralyzed, we cannot promote or fulfill our main objective, which is poverty reduction," Macri said.
Illegal drug sales in Argentina increased nearly 17 percent between 2010 and 2015, affecting young people from poor areas, particularly on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
Some 44 percent of people in this group admitted to having consumed illegal drugs, according to a June report from Universidad Catolica.
Macri linked the rise of drug trafficking in recent years to former President Cristina Fernandez's administration, contending that it "denied" a problem existed.
Drug trafficking has generated an increase in violence and the number of gangs, leading to more poverty and fewer opportunities for the young, Macri said.