The grisly pre-Christmas murders of two young men and their uncle in an early 20th-century house in Mexico City draws attention to the dark side of the capital’s booming real estate market, which is being hampered by a lack of legal documentation and gangs selling illegal property confiscate, is nourished. Actor Andrés Tirado, his musician brother Jorge Tirado and an uncle whose name has not been released were found dead on Sunday, all with their throats cut.
Prosecutors said the apparent motive was an ownership dispute over the property.
In another instance, a young woman posted a distressed video on social media from a rooftop in the south of the city on Tuesday, where she is heard screaming, “Police! Police!” Help! You kidnapped me!”
Police said the woman told them relatives had erected a metal door to prevent them from leaving their home and locked them inside with four children. Police said a dispute over ownership of the property was behind the alleged kidnapping and that investigations into the illegal takeover of the property were ongoing.
Authorities have known for years that there are armed, violent gangs that specialize in taking over homes. The trend is made possible by the fact that many properties — perhaps up to a fifth of homes — have no legal papers or have titles in the names of dead people who left no wills.
According to a 2021 report by the city government’s Public Policy Assessment Agency, the percentage of homes in the capital occupied by squatters whose ownership is in litigation or whose owners died intestate rose from 10.9% in 2010 to 19.9% in 2020.
Mexico has a costly, inefficient, outdated and corrupt judicial system.
In 2019, Mexico City prosecutors said in some of the 311 cases of active property seizures that year, notaries, lawyers or real estate firms forged papers to evict rightful owners.
Because it is so expensive to have a will drawn up in Mexico, many people don’t do it, which often creates problems for heirs to protect their rights.
That seems to have been the case with the murders of the Tirado brothers and their uncle. The uncle’s wife’s older brother recently died after a long illness, but his nurse who had taken care of him continued to live on the ground floor of the house in the thriving Roma neighborhood made famous by the Oscar-winning 2018 film Roma . “
The prosecutors made the following statements:
The nurse attempted to claim the home was hers based on her alleged romantic relationship with the late man. The man’s sister moved upstairs to prevent the nurse from seizing the house.
The Tirado brothers came to their aunt and uncle in August for partial protection. The nurse had taken her daughter and son-in-law downstairs, and the tirados apparently feared they might turn violent.
What followed was a tense five-month life together, with one family below and one above.
The family on the ground floor “began to behave in ways that progressed to this type of violence,” prosecutors spokesman Ulises Lara said.
The nurse, her daughter and son-in-law were sentenced to prison on kidnapping allegations. One of the men who may have carried out the murders – who are also believed to be related to the nurse – has been arrested on drug charges but is being investigated in the case.
In other cases, gangs have simply broken into a property and kicked out residents. The city estimates that 23 home-robbery gangs operate in Mexico City, some linked to drug gangs and others to quasi-political groups.
“One problem that we have practically all over the city is the problem of property takeovers,” Mexico City’s Attorney Ernestina Godoy said in 2019.
In 2016, for example, a police action evicted a violent group of squatters from a home in the upscale Condesa neighborhood that the group had seized years earlier. After the building was recovered, police found underground bunkers and tunnels that had been dug under the building. Weapons and stolen goods were also secured.
The building was so badly damaged that it had to be demolished amid rising prices and rents and a housing shortage in the city.