Soldiers rescued 61 people, including a Honduran woman, who were being held captive in the northern border state of Coahuila, the Mexican Defense Secretariat said.

Army troops found a safe house Saturday in the El Cenizo section of Piedras Negras, a city in Coahuila, the secretariat said.

Three kidnappers were arrested and the captives, who had been abducted in different states "with the goal of forcing them to work for organized crime groups," were rescued, the secretariat said.

Soldiers went on a reconnaissance mission in the El Mirador section of Piedras Negras and found three luxury vehicles that apparently belonged to the kidnappers.

The vehicles contained ammunition clips and ammunition, the secretariat said, without identifying the criminal organization that the kidnappers belonged to.

Several drug trafficking organizations, including the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas, operate in Coahuila and have been fighting for control of smuggling routes into the United States.

The cartels often kidnap people and force them to work as lookouts or gunmen.

Piedras Negras appears to be the turf of Los Zetas, which started out as the armed wing of the Gulf cartel.

Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel ended their ties in March 2010 and are now at war in several states.

Los Zetas, considered Mexico's most violent drug cartel, has been blamed for several massacres in recent years.

The cartel has been accused of being behind the Aug. 23, 2010, massacre of 72 migrants, the majority of them from Latin America, at a ranch outside San Fernando, a city in Tamaulipas.

The cartel has also been blamed for the massacre of 27 peasants in May at a ranch in Guatemala's Peten province, which borders Mexico and Belize.