National guardsmen and state price adjusters are fanning out across Venezuela, implementing a military-style "occupation" with an unusual goal: Making sure shoppers can buy enough sugar.

The South American government is temporarily taking over the Dia a Dia supermarket chain as part of a crackdown on private businesses it blames for worsening shortages and long lines.

Two executives of Venezuela's largest drugstore chain were detained over the weekend as part of an investigation by price-control authorities.

On Monday night, Congress President Diosdado Cabello said officials had arrested Dia a Dia's owner and would occupy its 35 stores with the intention of distributing basic goods.

By Tuesday morning, armed soldiers were running lines for bags of sugar at a Dia a Dia store near the presidential palace.