THE criminal under-world of "trendy" new drugs has been laid bare to discourage teenagers from playing Russian Roulette with their lives.

New psychoactive subs-tances (NPS), also known as "legal highs", contain un-known chemicals which can have unpredictable and deadly affects on those who take them.

Glasgow-based specialist police officers say ruthless drug manufacturers are using substances made by chemists in labs as far afield as China.

These are then smuggled into the country to make pills and powders which mimic the effects of illegal substances such as ecstasy and cocaine.

But doctors and nurses in Glasgow are working blind to treat those who take the NPS as they don't know what deadly chemicals they are dealing with.

They can only treat the symptoms of users, as toxic compounds attack their bodies often causing organs to shut down and fail.

Police and health experts say these lethal cocktails have left a trail of devas-tation across the west of Scotland over the last two to three years and the problem is getting worse.

Helen Henderson, 19, from Renfrew, died on Sunday and one line of inquiry surrounding her death is that she may have taken MCAT, also known as mephedrone. Class B mephedrone was banned in 2010 after becoming a popular "legal high".

Helen fell ill at a flat in Paisley Road on Sunday before being rushed to hospital where she died.

DS Michael Miller of the specialist STOP (Statement of Opinion) Unit, based in Glasgow city centre, said officers face a constant battle against new drugs and toxic variations of known illegal substances.

He and his team are responsible for probing the use and distribution of these drugs and give expert evidence in court.

DS Miller told the Evening Times two NPS are being made every week.

He said: "When someone dies and their death is linked to drugs police will issue a health warning.

"I would like to stress that these warnings are not to be taken lightly. We mean it when we say that you are playing Russian Roulette with your life if you take these or any drugs."

He said drug manufacturers across the world are trying to "bypass the law" by altering the structure of drugs which are taken in clubs and at house parties in Glasgow and beyond.

He added: "These people might take cocaine or MDMA and add another substance to it to mimic the effect. This will never have been tested.

"No one knows what this might do to their body."

DS Miller said the same threat is also posed by drugs sold as known illegal substances as drug manufacturers strive to undercut each other in a competitive market and mix cheap chemicals into deadly tablets and pills.

These may be sold on as cocaine powder or ecstasy tablets but their contents can never be trusted.

He added: "They are illegal for a reason.

"You never know exactly what you are taking and you cannot trust the person who is selling it to you - they might not know.

"The bottom line is that drug dealers are trying to make money. They are ruthless."

The Glasgow unit links in with other specialist squads across the world to share information about new drugs and they have close links to Europol and other international drugs experts.

DS Miller added: "In the West of Scotland we see these drugs following trends.

"We are looking at an ever-evolving market which has changed significantly over the last two to three years.

"Sadly the affect is that every weekend some family has their life ruined forever."

Chief Inspector Arlene Smith, police commander for Renfrew, has reinforced the dangers of these drugs and is now appealing for information as officers investigate Helen's tragic death.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Detective Inspector Suzanne Chow on 101.