A leader of the Holy Death sect was sentenced to 12 years in prison for forging a voter's registration card, the Mexican Attorney General's Office said.

David Romo Guillen, who heads what is formally known as the Traditional Catholic Church, and eight other people were arrested last December on kidnapping and extortion charges.

Investigators in that case found Romo used a voting credential bearing his photograph and a different name to open bank accounts for the alleged purpose of receiving ransom payments.

Romo and the other defendants are still awaiting trial on the kidnapping and extortion charges, the AG's office said.

The Holy Death sect, which claims to have 5 million members around the world, has its principal church in Mexico City and has spread across Mexico, including to the U.S. border region, where followers erect altars, make offerings and ascribe miracles to it.

Mexican police say several drug lords number among the sect's adherents, as altars and images of the Holy Death have been discovered in raids.

Various factions within the sect appear to be embroiled in a power struggle.