MINNEAPOLIS – Three of 48 people charged in the massive fraud from a federal food program fled the country before papers could be served on them, U.S. Attorney Andy Luger acknowledged. There had been clues for weeks that a federal investigation was in progress. Catching international flights just in time:

> Abdikerm Eidleh, 39, of Burnsville, employee of Feeding Our Future.

> Abdiwahab Aftin, 32, of Minneapolis, owner of Bushra Wholesalers.

> Fahad Nur, 38, of Minneapolis, principal of The Produce.

Others were caught in planning to leave:

> Mohamed Jama Ismail, 49, of Savage, an owner of Empire Cuisine and Market. who was arrested at the Minneapolis airport in April and charges with passport fraud.

> Mekfira Hussein, 38, of Brooklyn Center, who had purchased a one-way ticket to Ethiopia for the day the indictments were announced

Of the 48 indicted last week, all but seven were released on their own pending further court hearings. Such is the usual practice in federal courts unless prosecutors demonstrate a defendant is a flight risk or the case involves terrorism or narcotics.

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