A woman suspected of belonging to a kidnapping gang is the sister of Xochitl Galvez, who headed the Mexican National Commission for the Development of Indigenous People and ran for a Senate seat under the banner of the governing National Action Party, or PAN, federal officials close to the investigation told Efe.

Jaqueline Malinali Galvez Ruiz, 42, told investigators she was the sister of Xochitl Galvez, who was a Senate candidate in the July 1 elections.

Xochitl Galvez confirmed in an interview Monday night with a television network that the woman arrested on kidnapping charges was her sister, adding that her sibling "lives day to day" and just had the power cut off at her home for failure to pay her bills.

It does not seem possible that Jaqueline was involved in kidnappings, but she will have her day in court, the politician said.

Xochitl Galvez, a businesswoman with a degree in information technology who belongs to the Otomi tribe, entered politics in 2000, when then-President Vicente Fox named her to chair the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous People, making her the first Indian woman to hold a high-level post in the federal government.

Six people were arrested by the Federal Police last Friday and two captives being held in cages were rescued in Otzolotepec, a city in Mexico state, the Public Safety Secretariat said.

The victims had been kidnapped in May by the Los Tolmex gang, the secretariat said in a statement.

Leonardo Sales Andrade, the gang's leader and negotiator, was among those arrested.

The gang staged at least three kidnappings, the secretariat said.

Los Tolmex studied the routines and activities of targets, using the information to pick the right time to grab them, the secretariat said.

Victims were taken to a house, where videos or voice recordings were made of them asking relatives to pay the ransom, the secretariat said, adding that some victims were mutilated to put pressure on their families to pay up.

The Federal Police seized vehicles, firearms, ammunition and cell phones from the suspects, the secretariat said.

Mexico has been plagued for years by a wave of violence unleashed by organized crime groups involved in kidnappings and drug, arms and people trafficking.

An average of 49 kidnappings per day occurred in Mexico in 2011, marking a significant increase from the prior year, the Council for Law and Human Rights, or CLDH, said in a report released earlier this year.

A total of 17,889 kidnappings occurred in Mexico last year, up 32 percent from the 13,505 abductions registered in 2010, the non-governmental organization said.

The figures do not include "express kidnappings," in which a victim is held for only a few hours, the CLDH said.

Hundreds of express kidnappings occur in Mexico City daily, with taxi drivers usually assisting the criminals, the NGO said.

About one-third of the kidnappers arrested by the Federal Police, according to official figures, have links to drug cartels. EFE