The rural police on Tuesday raided the houses of 96 under-world linked businessmen who lent money at usurious rates of interest and used violence to get it back.

District Police Chief, Rural, A.J. Thomaskutty ordered the dawn raids, which were conducted almost simultaneously.

He said the special drive, code named ‘Operation Kubera’ resulted in the arrest of 24 suspected loan sharks and seizure of Rs.13 lakh in cash.

The police also recovered scores of signed blank cheques, promissory notes, stamp papers, land deeds, registration certificate books of vehicles, and passports. Investigators said the documents were received by the loan sharks as surety from their clients.

Some of the accused extended collateral-free “meter” loans, where interest is charged by the hour, and used their henchmen to retrieve it from defaulters. The accused were booked on charges of cheating, forgery and violating the Kerala Moneylenders Act and will be produced before the court on Wednesday.