A Bush ATF initiative Operation Wide Receiver started in 2006 during the time of Alberto Gonzales as the attorney general in Bush administration. Senator Schumer took an initiative to describe this operation. He said that this involved tracking of firearms that crossed into Mexico. In 2007 after Michael Mukasey succeeded Alberto, a briefing was made that included details on a wide receiver.
After the briefing, Mukasey met with his counterpart the Mexican attorney general and expressed his interest to stop the flow of guns to the south of the border. Schumer gathered these unremarkable facts and concluded that Wide Receiver involved gun tracing. He also theorized that it was likely that the whole Fast and Furious gun-walking operations came up in Mukasey briefing during Bush era although some believe that it started in 2009 months after the end of Bush administration.
Because of these contradictions the task was left to John Cornyn and Charles Grassley to draw the differences between the two ATF operations. The following differences between the two should be considered even though they are stark.
Operation wide receiver never resulted in the death of any U.S patrol agent or immigration and customs enforcement officer whereas fast and furious did. Some of the people killed include ICE officer Jamie Zapata. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was also killed. In both cases, the guns that killed them were traced back to straw purchasers related to fast and furious who had even killed hundreds of Mexican holders and citizen whereas in wider and receiver there are no confirmed deaths.
Wide and Receiver was a gun tracing operation that involved putting specific safeguards in place to track firearms with aerial surveillance or video. Fast and Furious involved gun walking, where the ATF agents were selling out guns without proper ways to recover them but hoping for the best to happen. The ATF agents testified that they were ordered not to track the weapons but instead took notes and let the guns walk across the Mexico border.
Wide Recover was shut down in 2007 after it was discovered that it had failed. Fast and Furious was shut down after the deaths.
Officials in Wide and recover were reportedly in close contact with Mexican Authorities. In Fast and Furious, the Mexican authorities were completely kept in the dark.